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759.5 L58n 54-5820^ 
Leonardo u& Vinci 
Note -Books 

i Turin 



Arranged and rendered into English 
with Introductions 






Empirt State Book Company 


There are many books of which it may be said 
that the world will survive their loss, and there are 
others so replete with inspiration that they should 
be in the hands of every student of human progress; 
for, when it is granted to us to become acquainted, 
even to a small extent, with the lives and efforts of 
those to whom the world is indebted, when we have 
placed before us the record of courageous struggle, 
of unwavering fortitude, we are often led to imitate 
and strive in accordance with the example set before 
us, and so bring to a successful termination what 
before promised to be defeat. 

There is another advantage as well that comes t 
from the study of these intimate records of a man's 
life: the broadening of the mental horizon as we 
strive to grasp the underlying motives that have pro- 
duced such application, such devotion, to aims and 
ideals that, for the majority of us, have little or no 
drawing power. The very effort we make to under- 
stand the force that has commanded such self- 
sacrificing consecration to an end that has no attrac- 
tion for us, brings us within the circle, and conse- 
quently, the influence of a new life, new vistas arc 
open before us, and as we assimilate and grow we 

achieve one of the greatest things in life; we grow 
into furuier understanding of the infinite world of 
the human heart, we see things from a different angle; 
and the sympathies^ once limited to a narrow sphere, 
have broadened out and embraced yet another truth. 
So in placing once more before the reading Public 
the Note Books of Leonardo da Vinci, we feel that 
we are performing a service for which that Public 
will feel grateful. The careful study of the work of 
one who stands out as one of the world's greatest 
intellects, whose prophetic vision was so keen that 
it has led to his being qualified as the forerunner of 
many aspects of modern scientific' research, can only 
be of the greatest value to all those who are inter- 
ested in tracing the advance of Human Achievement 
and in particular, of studying those rare cases where 
the mind has leaped across the boundaries of the age 
in which it lived and worked* 

January, 1923. 


THE manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci afford the chief 
existing proof of that extraordinary versatility with 
which he has been credited from the time of his earliest 
biographers downwards. They comprise the records and 
results of his studies in the theory of art and in various 
branches of mathematical and natural science, together 
with fragments of literary composition of a philosophical 
or imaginative character, and in addition much personal 
and biographical matter. The manuscripts in their pre- 
sent form consist of about twenty note-books and bound 
volumes or collections of loose sheets of various sixes, 
containing altogether more than four thousand pages. 
While on many of these there are only drawings or 
scientific diagrams with at most a few words of comment 
or explanation, others are covered with minute writing, 
which with the rarest exceptions is of the character known 
as c left-handed * from the fact of its direction across the 
page being from right to left, and which is therefore 
most easily read by the use of a mirror. The contents 
of these manuscripts, with the exception of such parts 
as are contained in the compilation known as Leonardo's 
Treatise on fainting^ have up to the present time 
only been available to English readers in the edition 


selected and edited by Dr. Richter. The period of 
more than twenty years which has now elapsed since 
the appearance of that important work has witnessed 
the publication in extenso of all the manuscripts of 
Leonardo at Paris and Milan with facsimile reproductions 
and transcripts, whilst a part of those at Windsor which 
treat of anatomy and the small volume ' on the flight of 
birds ' have also appeared in a similar form ; of the 
remainder of the Windsor manuscripts photographic 
facsimiles have been published. The quantity of material 
thus placed within reach of the student is the justification 
for a work of the scope of the present one* The above- 
mentioned editions have served as my text for the 
passages which I have taken from the Codice Atlantico, 
the Codice Trivulziano, the manuscripts at Paris and 
Windsor, and the volume * on the flight of birds/ In 
the case of the manuscript in the British Museum and 
those at South Kensington I have worked from the 
originals. In the passages from these and from the 
Windsor facsimiles I have added a footnote where I 
have ventured to adopt a reading somewhat different 
from that found in the text as printed by Dr. Richter* 
For seven passages taken from the manuscript in the 
possession of the Earl of Leicester, I have used the text 
given in Dr. Richter's work, and also for some six lines 
that occur in the Windsor manuscripts which I have not 
been able to locate in the facsimiles ; whilst for two 
from sheets in the Christ Church Library at 


Oxford I am indebted to the texts in Mr. Sidney 
Colvin's Oxford Drawings. 

My intention has been to present Leonardo as a 
writer, and to include in this work all passages from the 
note-books of philosophical, artistic, or literary interest. 
From the mass of the scientific writings I have drawn 
very sparingly, selecting only a few passages which either 
possess a more general interest or which may serve to 
illustrate his method of exposition. I have not included 
any of those passages which are simply the memoranda 
of scientific or mathematical processes, or those of which 
the importance is entirely biographical. These latter 
chiefly consist of notes of Leonardo's movements and 
household expenses, details as to his various commissions, 
and fragments of letters relating to the same. I have 
also thought fit to exclude the passages purporting to be 
letters addressed to the Devatdar of Syria, as their 
actual character is a matter of some uncertainty, and 
their literary value slight, as compared with the im- 
portance of the biographical issue which they raise, and 
any adequate discussion of that issue would travel 
far beyond the purpose of the present work. I have 
not included any of the allegories about animals which 
are found in MS* H of the Paris manuscripts, because 
they are merely extracts made by Leonardo from early 
bestiaries with at most verbal alterations; so also I have 
omitted the notes on armour and on methods of warfare 
in MS. B, as being derived in like manner from the 


De re militari of Roberto Valturio. These facts may 
serve to suggest some of the difficulties of selection. 
The manuscripts were Leonardo's note-books, and as 
such they contain much unoriginal matter some of it 
no doubt still unidentified taken from various books 
which he read. 

In the work of translation, trying at times to avoid 
the Charybdis of a too literal interpretation, I may have 
grounded my barque on the hidden reefs of Scylla which 
lie in the outer seas ; but for the most part I have kept 
to the shallows. 

The illustrations have been prepared from negatives 
specially taken for the purpose by Mr- Emery Walker. 
They have been chosen primarily with the intention of 
showing the degree of exactitude which characterised 
Leonardo's study of natural phenomena. I am indebted 
to Dr. W. S. Handley for the description of such of 
them as are of an anatomical character ; and for repeated 
help in the deciphering of various difficult passages of 
the text I have to thank Mr- J. A, Herbert, of the 
Manuscripts Department of the British Museum, 



PREFACE, ........ v 

LIST OF PLATES, ....... xi 

INTRODUCTION, ....... x 


PROEM, ........ 45 

BOOK I. LIFE, ....... 47 

BOOK II. NATURE, . . ^ ^ ^ ^ . 85 





4. LANDSCAPE, ..... 236 

FABLES, ...... 252 

PROPHECIES, ..... 267 


(?2* originals <unth the exception of t fa frontispiece art all to fa 
found in the Royal Library at Windsor] 


Turin, Frontiipifc* 




This plate represents a skull sawn through in 
the median plane. The extreme front portion 
of the right half of the skull has been removed 
Jby a saw-cut at right angles to the median 
plane, so as to display the bony cavities or air 
spaces (frontal sinus, and maxillary antrum) 
which are present in the facial bones. The 
section also displays the nasal duct through 
which the tears pass down to the natal cavity. 
On the left are seen typical teeth from the 
upper jaw: incisor, canine, bicuspid, and 
molar, with a full and accurate description 
appended. A transcript of the text is to be 
found in / Manoscritti # L. aa P. DM 
Anatomia, Fog/t , pp. 249-50. 



This plate is concerned almost entirely with 
the deltoid muscle of the shoulder, which is 
represented from various aspects and in various 
positions of the arm. The little drawing in 


the centre below the middle of the page is not 
related, to the one above it, and represents a 
dissection of the omo-hyoid muscle arising, as 
Leonardo believed, from the clavicle. The text 
contains the passages on the nature and number 
of the veins, which are to be found on pp. 79 
and 80, also an account of the various move- 
ments of the neck, and explanations of the 
letters which occur on the smaller of the draw- 
ings. For transcript, see / Manoscritti di L. da 
V. Dell 1 Anatomic Fogti A^ pp. 67-69, 



This plate illustrates the anatomy of (a) the 
bones of the left foot, seen from above and from 
below; (3) the muscular and other structures 
of the neck, seen from various aspects. In one 
of the passages of the text Leonardo gives the 
number of the bones of the foot as twenty- 
seven. For transcript, see / Manoseritti di L. 
da V. Dell* Anatomia, Fogli A^ pp. 75-6. 


In the upper drawing half the vault of the 
skull has been removed in order to show, the 
cranial cavity, 

In the lower drawing the skull and the upper 
part of the spinal column are seen in a section 
through the mid-plane of the body. The spinal 
column appears to be unnaturally straight. The 
lines on the drawing are to show Inter alia that * 

the point about which the skull rotates is one 
third the vertical distance from the level of the 
chin to the level of the crown of the head. 
For transcript, see / Manosmtti di L* da V. 
Dell' Anatomia, Fogli 3, p. 243. 



(Pel slto di Vtnert\ TOGETHER WITH ARCHI- 
NEPTUNE WITH HIS HORSES, . . . Fact p. 131 

The heads and legs of horses seen at the base 
of the standing figure show its connection 
with the composition of Neptune in his chariot 
drawn by sea-horses, which, according to Vasari, 
Leonardo drew for Antonio Segni. The head 
of the horse on the right recalls the larger 
spirited study for the same composition at 
Windsor (Grosvenor Gallery Portfolio No. 48) 
From a note on the last-named drawing ' abassi 
i cbavalli* (make the horses lower), it may be 
inferred that the plate represents the later of 
the two versions. Leonardo was apparently 
dissatisfied with an arrangement in which the 
position of the figure suggests a charioteer quite 
as much as it does a deity, and altered it to 
represent the god in an erect position. The 
figure has a considerable similarity to that of 
the David of Michelangelo, but is not impro- 
bably of earlier date. 

7, GENISTA TINCTORIA (Dytrf Grecnwecd) AND 


OAK (Qucrcus Robur Pedunculata\ . . Fact p. 163 


9. BRAMBLE (Rubus Fruticosus), * * . Fact p. 212 
10. GROVE OF SILVER BIRCHES, . . . Fact p. 243 
ix. STUDY OF TREE, Aw .248 

12. COLUMBINE (Aquihgla Vulgarn\ . . . Face p. 262 



Bethlehem), ANEMONE NEMOROSA (Wood 
Anemone\ EUPHORBIA ESULA (Leafy-Branched 
Spurge), ....... Face p. 274 



THE unknown author of Aetna at the outset of his song 
disclaims all sympathy with the fictions of poets who 
represent the mountain as the forge of Vulcan, the kilns 
of the Cyclops, or the mound beneath 'which lies the 
giant Enceladus breathing smoke and flame. Fables all t 
And the bards who utter them not content with earth as 
their province think to tell of the wars of the Gods, and 
the shapes which Jove assumes ! 

His work shall treat of Aetna itself, not the legends 
about it. His purpose is to trace the mighty workings 
of nature as revealed in the mountain's hidden fires. 

This he proceeded to do with scientific thoroughness ; 
yet it would seem that the reservation pressed somewhat 
hardly upon the poetic instinct ; so soon as ever his 
purpose was accomplished the muse led him back in 
apparent contentment to the scorned fables. 

An analogy at best a partial thing may here serve 
to break the shore-ice of the sea of conjecture. The 
early biographers of Leonardo da Vinci cultivated the 
picturesque with an almost metrical licence. Their 
narratives, which together constitute what Pater has 
termed the legende, are as inadequate to reveal his work 
and personality, as the fables of Vulcan's forge and 


the like are unsatisfying as an origin for Aetna's fire. 
Moreover, in the different aspects which Aetna has 
assumed to the imagination, seeming at first a caprice of 
the Gods and a thing of rhapsody, and subsequently as 
the tenor of thought changed a field for the scientific 
study of the forces of nature, there is presented a contrast 
no less sharply defined, and in its main features somewhat 
closely corresponding to that presented by the personality 
of Leonardo as shown in the earliest biographies and in 
the light of modern research. For the capricious 
volatile prodigy of youthful genius which the legends has 
bequeathed, the latter has substituted a figure less 
romantic, less alluringly inexplicable, but of even more 
varied and astonishing gifts. His greatness as an artist 
has suffered no change, but modern research has revealed 
the ordered continuity of effort which preceded achieve- 
ment. It has made manifest how he studied the 
structure of the human frame, of the horse, of rocks, 
and trees, in order the better to paint and make statues, 
in that his work would then be upon the things he knew, 
and no sinew or leaf would be conventional, but taken 
directly from the treasury of nature; since the artist 
should be * the son, not the grandson of nature/ 

This habit of scientific investigation in inception sub- 
sidiary to the practice of his art so grew to dominate it 
as to gradually alienate him from its practice to the study 
of its laws, and then of those which govern all created 
nature. The fruits of these studies lay hidden in manu- 
scripts, of which the contents have only become fully 
known within the last quarter of a century. So by a 
curibus appositeness he is associated in each age with the 


predominant current of its activity. His versatility in 
the arts caused him to seem an embodiment of the spirit 
of the Renaissance. Alike as painter, sculptor, architect, 
engineer, and musician, he aroused the wonder and 
admiration of his contemporaries. But to them, the 
studies which traversed the whole domain of nature, pre- 
figuring in their scope what the spirit of the Renaissance 
should afterwards become, were so imperfectly compre- 
hended as to seem mere trifles, ghiribizzi,' to be 
mentioned apologetically, if at all, as showing the wayward 
inconstancy of genius, and with regret on account of the 
time thus wasted which might have been spent on 
painting. Modern savants have resolved these trifles, 
and in so doing have estimated the value of Leonardo's 
discoveries and observations in the realms of exact 
science. They have acclaimed him as one of the greatest 
of savants : not in completed endeavour which of itself 
reached fruition, but in conjecture and prefigurement of 
what the progress of science has in course of centuries 
established. Such conjecture, moreover, was not 
grounded in fantasy, but was the harvest of a lifetime of 
study of natural phenomena, and of close analysis of 
their laws. Anatomist, mathematician, chemist, geologist, 
botanist, astronomer, geographer, the application of 
each of these titles is fully justified by the contents of 
his manuscripts at Milan, Paris, Windsor, and London. 

To estimate aright the value of his researches in the 
various domains of science would require an almost 
encyclopaedic width of knowledge. In respect to these 
Leonardo himself in his manuscripts must be accounted 
his own best biographer, in spite of what may appear the 


enigmatic brevity of some of his statements and infer- 
ences. It is not possible to claim for him originality in 
discovery in all the points wherein his researches antici- 
pated principles which were subsequently established. 
So incomplete is the record of the intellectual life of 
Milan under the Sforzas, which has survived the storms 
of invasion that subsequently broke upon the city, as to 
cause positive statement on this point to be wellnigh 
impossible ; something, however, should be allowed for 
the results of his intercourse with those who were 
occupied in the same fields of research. We are told 
that at a later period he was the friend of Marc Antonio 
della Torre who held the Chair of Anatomy in the 
University of Pavia, and that they mutually assisted 
each other's studies- He was also the friend of Fra 
Luca Pacioli the mathematician, and drew the diagrams 
for his De DMna Proportion^ and the two were com- 
panions for some time in the autumn and winter of 
1499, after leaving Milan together at the time of the 
French invasion. Numerous references and notes which 
occur throughout the manuscripts show that he was 
indefatigable in seeking to acquire knowledge from 
every possible source, either by obtaining the loan of 
books or treatises, or by application to those interested 
in the same studies. From the astrologers then to be 
found at Ludovic's court Ambrogio da Rosate and the 
othersr-he learnt nothing- He rated their wisdom on 
a par with that of the alchemists and the seekers after 
perpetual motion. His study of the heavens differed 
from theirs as much in method as in purpose* His 
instruments were scientific! and even at times suggestively 


modern. The line in the Codice Atlantico * construct 
glasses to see the moon large ' (fa occhiali da vedere la 
luna grande) refers, however, only to the use of magni- 
fying glasses ; the invention of the telescope is to be 
assigned to the century following. 

At the commencement of the sixteenth century, the 
Ptolemaic theory of the Universe was still held in 
universal acceptance. Leonardo at first accepted it, and 
in his earlier writings the earth is represented as fixed, 
with the sun and moon revolving round it. He ended at 
some stage further on in the path of modern discovery. 
On a page of mathematical notes at Windsor he has 
"written in large letters, c the sun does not move * (il sole 
no si muove). 

He has been spoken of as the forerunner of Bacon, of 
James Watt, of Sir Isaac Newton, of William Harvey. 
He cannot be said to have anticipated the discoveries 
with which their names are associated. It may, however, 
be claimed that he anticipated the methods of investiga- 
tion which, when pursued to their logical issue, could 
not but lead to these discoveries. 

The great anatomist Vesalius, after having given up 
his Chair of Anatomy in 1561 in order to become the 
court physician at Madrid, spoke of himself as still 
looking forward to studying c that true bible as we count 
it of the human body and of the nature of man/ Sir 
Michael Foster takes these words as^the keynote of the 
life-work of Vesalius: c the true bible to read is nature 
itself, things as they are, not the printed pages of Galen 
or another; science comes by observation not by 
authority. 9 In method Leonardo was the forerunner 


of Vesalius, and consequently of William Harvey, whose 
great work was the outcome of Vesalius's teaching. No 
passage in his writings constitutes an anticipation of 
Harvey's discovery. He knew that the blood moved 
just as he also knew that the sun did not move, but the 
law of the circulation of the blood was as far beyond 
the stage at which his deductions had arrived as was the 
discovery of Copernicus. It was his work to establish, 
even before the birth of Vesalius, that * science comes 
by observation not by authority/ Yet he was no mere 
empiric. He knew the authorities. He quotes in his 
manuscripts from Mundinus's Anatomia, and he must 
have known the work of Galen to which Mundinus 
served as an introduction. At a time when the Church 
* taught the sacredness of the human corpse, and was 
ready to punish as a sacrilege the use of the anatomist's 
scalpel/ Leonardo practised dissection ; and he suffered 
in consequence of his temerity, since it was subsequent 
to the malicious laying of information concerning these 
experiments that the withdrawal of the papal favour 
brought about his departure from Rome in 1515. Of 
such temerity the anatomical drawings are a rich harvest. 
The pall of authority was thrown aside ; the primary need 
was for actual investigation, and of this they are a record. 
He would agree, he says, as to it being better for the 
student to watch a demonstration in anatomy than to see 
his drawings ' if only it were possible to observe all the 
details shown in these drawings in a single figure; in 
which, with all your ability, you will not see nor acquire 
a knowledge of more than some few veins, while, in 
order to obtain an exacc and complete knowledge of 


these, I have dissected more than ten human bodies, 
destroying all the various members and removing even 
the very smallest particles of the flesh which surrounded 
these veins, without causing any effusion of blood other 
than the imperceptible bleeding of the capillary veins.* 

It was after his examination of these drawings that 
the great anatomist Dr. William Hunter wrote that he 
was fully of opinion that c Leonardo was the best 
Anatomist at that time in the world.' 

Coleridge called Shakespeare c myriad-minded.' If the 
Baconian contention were established the result would 
afford a parallel to the myriad-mindedness of Leonardo. 
Morelli speaks of him as * perhaps the most richly gifted 
by nature among all the sons of men.' Equally emphatic 
is the tribute of Francis i. recorded by Benvenuto 
Cellini : c He did not believe that any other man had 
come into the world who had attained so great knowledge 
as Leonardo, and that not only as sculptor, painter, and 
architect, for beyond that he was a profound philosopher/ 

In regard to this undefined, ungarnered knowledge the 
prevalent note of the early biographers is frankly the 
marvellous. To us his personality seems to outspan 
the confines of his age, to project itself by the inherent 
force of its vitality down into modern times and so to 
take its due place among the intuitive influences of 
modern thought. To them on the other hand his 
personality projecting beyond the limits of his own age 
seemed to stretch back into the age of legend, to gather 
something of its insouciance and its mystery. The figure 
never sufficiently to be extolled for beauty of person 
wandering through princes' courts improvising songs, 


bearing a lute as a gift from one patron to another, and 
pkying upon it in such skilled fashion that that alone 
out of all the arts of which he had knowledge would 
suffice as 'open sesame* to win him welcome, seems 
indeed rather to have its habitation in Provence at the 
close of the twelfth century than to be that of a contem- 
porary and fellow-citizen of Macchiavelli and Savonarola. 
In lieu of any such period of toilsome apprenticeship as 
Vasari's biographies lead us customarily to expect, there 
seems almost a Pallas-like maturity at birth* The angel 
painted by him when an apprentice causes his master to 
abandon the use of the brush, in chagrin that a mere 
child had surpassed him ; and so, in like manner, we are 
told that a monster which he painted on a shield filled 
his own father with dismay. Unsatisfied with this 
mastery of the arts he sought to discern the arcana of 
nature; and whither the quest had led him it was not 
for a mere biographer to say. But each will help you to 
conjecture, with hints more expressive than words, and 
less rebuttable. Leonardo's scornful references to the 
pretended wisdom of alchemists, astrologers, and necro- 
mancers lay hidden meanwhile in the manuscripts, not 
available to contravene such suppositions. 

The personality as represented in the early biographies 
is substantially that which is expressed in the phrase of 
Michelet * Leonard, ce frere italien de Faust/ It tells 
of him that he chose rather to know than to be, and 
that curiosity led him within the forbidden portals ! It 
represents in fact the popular mediaeval conception of 
scientific study. Much of the modern aesthetic appreci- 
ation is in its essential conception a more temperate 


re-statement of the same point of view. Errors or at 
any rate some of them ! are corrected in the light of the 
results of critical research from Amoretti downwards : 
the outlook nevertheless remains that of Vasari and 
the Anonimo Fiorentino ! Ruskin's dictum, that * he 
debased his finer instincts by caricature and remained to 
the end of his days the slave of an archaic smile, 9 is at 
one with the opinion of the folk of Wittenberg who 
lamented Faust's use of the unhallowed arts which had 
made him Helen's lover. The true analogy Ifes not with 
Faust but with Goethe, between whom and Leonardo 
there is perhaps as great a psychological resemblance as 
ever has existed between two men of supreme genius. 
In each the purely artistic and creative faculties became 
subordinate, mastered by the sanity of the philosophical 

In each alike the restless workings of the human 
spirit desiring to know> ranged over the various mediums 
of artistic expression, tempered them to its uses, and 
finally passed on, looking beyond the art to the thought 
itself, unsatisfied with what even in its perfection of 
utterance was but a pale reflex of the phenomena it 
would observe. The two parts of Goethe's Faust drama 
symbolise the gradual change of purpose, and may 
perhaps serve to represent Leonardo's two spheres of 
activity. Verrocchio's bottega and all the influences of 
the art world of Florence in the Quattrocento were for 
him tutelage and training, as the mediaeval chap-book 
legends and the newly arisen literature of the Romantic 
School were for the poet of Weimar. The result in 
each case was limpid, serene, majestic, for the elements 


which had gone to the making of it, had been fused 
molten in the flame-heat of genius. Yet the man behind 
the artist is still unsatisfied. He never shares the artist's 
accomplishment with such measure of absorption as 
characterised Raphael and Giovanni Bellini. He has 
something of the aloofness of Faust. There is that 
within him which art's appeal to the senses never kindled 
into life, never impelled to utter to one of its moments 
the supreme shibboleth of Hedonism, ' Stay, thou art so 
fair.' All the allurements of the mediaeval chap-book 
legend were revealed in the first part of the Faust drama, 
then, this invocation being as yet unuttered, the thinker 
essays the problem. No beaten footsteps as before in 
this new avenue of approach ! No clear limpidity of 
ordered effort ! Titanic energy struggles p linfully amid 
the chaos of dimly-perceived primaeval forces. The re- 
sult even the very effort itself according to much 
critical opinion, was an artistic mistake. 

The same judgment was passed on Leonardo's work 
as philosopher and scientist by the earliest of his bio- 
graphers. Yet in each case the thinker is nearer to the 
verities. Faust is regenerated by the service of man 
from out of the hell of mediaeval tradition. It was the 
cramping fetter of mediaeval tradition upon thought 
which Leonardo toiled to unloose. It was his aim to 
extend the limits of man's knowledge of himself, of his 
structure, of his environments, of all the forms of life 
around him, of the manner of the building up of the 
earth and sea, and of the firmament of the heavens. 
To this end he toiled at the patient exposition of natural 
things, steadfastly, and in proud confidence of purpose. 


* I wish/ he says, * to work miracles ; I may have fewer 
possessions than other men who are more tranquil and 
those who wish to grow rich in a day.' 

Inchoate and comparatively barren of result as was 
his investigation of natural phenomena, it nevertheless 
was actual investigation, and it attained results. We 
may instance the passages in the manuscript at Holkham 
Hall, in which the fact of fossil shells being found in the 
higher mountain ridges of Lombardy, is used by a pro- 
cess of deductive reasoning, to show how at one time 
the waters covered the earth. The hypothetical argu- 
ment'that the presence of these shells is to be attributed 
to the Flood, he meets by considering the rate of the 
cockle's progress. It is a creature possessed of no swifter 
power of motion than the snail has when out of water. 
It cannot swim, but makes a furrow in the sand by 
means of its sides, and travels in this furrow a space of 
three to four braccia daily, and by such a method of 
progression, it could not in forty days have travelled 
from the Adriatic to Monferrato in Lombardy, a distance 
of two hundred and fifty miles. Neither is it a case of 
dead shells having been carried there by the force of the 
waves, for the living are recognisable by the shells being 
in pairs. Many other passages in the manuscripts might 
be cited to show by what varied paths he anticipated the 
modern methods of scientific investigation. The words 
which Pater uses of the Renaissance of the fifteenth 
century, * in many things great rather by what it de- 
signed or aspired to do than by what it actually achieved * 
applicable to Leonardo in respect of his work as an 
artist, are no whit the less applicable in reference to his 


work in science. Painting and sculpture filled only two 
of the facets of a mind, which, as a crystal, took the 
light from whatever quarter light came. As, however, it 
was in these arts that he accomplished most, so such of 
his writings as treat of them are on the whole the most 
practical. In science, for the most part he heralded the 
work of others ; in respect to his writings on art, we 
may apply to him the words which Diirer uses of himself 
in a similar connection, c what he set down with the pen 
he did with the hand.* It is this very factor of experi- 
ence working in the mind, which at times causes an 
abrupt antithesis in the transition from the general prin- 
ciple to discussion of the n\eans whereby it should be 
realised. His work may perhaps be considered to lose 
somewhat of its literary value in consequence, but it 
acquires an almost unique interest among treatises on art 
by its combination of the two standpoints of theory and 
practice. Of this, one of the most striking instances 
occurs in a passage which is only to be found in the 
recension of the Treatise on Painting in the Vatican 
(Ludwig, cap. 180), Leonardo there sums up, tritely 
and profoundly, what should be the painter's purpose, * a 
good painter has two chief objects to paint, man and the 
intention of his soul, the former is easy the latter hard ' ; 
after which follows the eminently reasonable, if perhaps 
unexpected explanation, * because he has to represent it 
by the attitudes and movements of the limbs * ; and the 
knowledge of these he proceeds to say should be acquired 
by observing the dumb, because their movements are 
more natural than those of any other class of persons. 
This very practical direction how to approach towards 


the realisation of an apparently abstract aim is entirely 
characteristic of his intention. The supreme misfortune, 
he says, is when theory outstrips performance. This 
essential practicality of mind brought about the result that 
in the more abstract portions of this branch of his writings 
his zest for first principles is most apparent. The sun, the 
origin of light and shade, is recognised as the first artist, 
and we are told that * the first picture consisted merely 
in a line which surrounded the shadow of a man cast by 
the sun upon a wall'; and the comparison of poetry and 
painting resolves itself into a consideration of the relative 
importance of the senses to which the two arts make 
their appeal* 

It is perhaps in the passages which indicate the 
manner in which particular scenes and actions should be 
represented in art that Leonardo's powers as a writer 
find their most impressive utterance. His natural in- 
clination impelled him to the contemplation of the vast 
and awe-inspiring in nature ; but in these terse, vivid, 
analytic descriptions, the consideration of the ultimate 
purpose operates throughout to restrain and co-ordinate. 
The descriptive passage entitled c the way to represent a 
battle,* in which the effect is built up entirely by fidelity 
of detail, forms indeed a veritable triumph of realism. 
There can be no possibility of difference of opinion as to 
how Leonardo regarded warfare. It was a grim neces- 
sity, and he was himself busied on occasions in devising 
its instruments; but he had no illusions as to its real 
nature, he characterises it elsewhere as a * bestial frenzy ' 
(bestiallissima pazzia). Here, however, he never suffers 
his pen to digress from the work of simple description. 


To generalise would be alien to his purpose, which is to 
show how to portray a battle in progress. Consequently 
he shows what it is that is actually happening amid the 
clouds of dust and smoke and the rain of gunshot and 
falling arrows ; and describes tersely, graphically, relent- 
lessly the passions and agonies of the combatants as 
shown in their faces and their actions, the bitterness of 
the deaths of the vanquished, the fury and exhaustion 
of the victors and the mad terror of the horses, since 
these should find a place in the work of whosoever would 
represent war ; < and see to it,* he says in conclusion, 
'that you make no level spot of ground that is not 
trampled over with blood.* The passage enables us in 
part to realise what he sets himself to represent in the 
picture of the Battle of Anghiari, It is, however, far 
more than a mere note for a picture. It possesses an 
interest and value apart either from this fact or from 
the mastery in the art, of writing which it reveals. Its 
ultimate value is moral and didactic. He forbears to 
generalise but constrains the reader in his stead. His. 
description is of the identical spirit which has animated 
the creations of Tolstoi and Verestchagin, Like these 
Leonardo seems to seek to make war impossible, by 
showing it stripped of all its pageantry and trappings, in 
its naked and hideous reality. 

The passages which describe a tempest and a deluge 
and their representation in painting possess the same 
vigorous realism and fidelity of detail, and contain some 
of Leonardo's most eloquent and picturesque writing ; 
and among the other notes connected with pictures we 
may instance that for the * Last Supper/ descriptive of 


the actions of the disciples, which, although of far 
slighter mould than any of the passages already referred 
to, yet possesses a restrained but very distinct dramatic 
power. These same qualities may be discerned perhaps 
even to more advantage in one of the very rare comments 
on public events which are to be found in his writings. 
After Ludovic Sforza's attempt to regain possession of 
Lombardy had ended with his defeat and capture at the 
battle of Novara in April 1500, Leonardo wrote among 
notes on various matters, * The Duke has lost his State, 
his possessions, and his liberty, and he has seen none of 
his works finished/ (II Duca perse lo Stato e la roba 
e la liberta, e nessuna sua opera si fini per lui.) Leonardo 
was a homeless wanderer in consequence of the events 
referred to, and one of the works of which the duke 
had not witnessed the completion was that of the statue 
on which Leonardo had been engaged intermittently 
during sixteen years, and the model of which had served 
as a target for the French soldiery ; but this terse im- 
passive comment is the only reference to these occurrences 
found in his writings. There is a certain poignant brevity 
and concentration in the sentence which suffices even to 
recall some of the most inevitable lines of Dante. 

It is within the narrow limits of the short sentence 
and the apothegnji that Leonardo's command of language 
is most luminous. In some of these the thought ex- 
pressed is so wedded to the words as scarcely to suffer 
transference. *0osa bella mortale passa e non d'arte* 
is a type of the almost untranslatable ; so also * Si come 
unc giornata bene spesa dA lieto dormire cosi una vita 
benc usata di lieto morire ' must lose something of its 


grace in any rendering. Certain of these sentences 
record the phenomena of nature so simply as to cause 
us almost to doubt whether they are intended to do 
more than this. 'All the flowers which see the sun 
mature their seed, and not the others, that is those which 
see only the reflection of the sun,' is perhaps written as 
an observation of nature without thought of a deeper 
meaning ; but it is hard to suppose that a similar restric- 
tion applies to the sentence c tears come from the heart 
not from the brain/ although it is found in a manuscript 
which treats of anatomy. 

It would seem that it was natural to him as a writer 
to use words as symbols and figuratively, thus employing 
things evident and revealed in metaphor. Of this habit 
of veiled utterance the section of his imaginative writings 
known as prophecies affords the most impressive and 
sustained series of instances. Some few of these are, as 
their name implies, a forecast of future conditions ; many 
attack the vices and abuses of his own time. In the 
succinct, antithetical form of their composition Leonardo 
apparently created his own model. 

There are questions more intimate than any of those 
which arise from the consideration of his achievement 
in these various arts and sciences; questions which 
the mere number of these external interests, tends to veil 
in comparative obscurity, causing us to regard Leonardo 
almost as a resultant of forces rather than as an individual, 
to see in him as it were an embodiment of the various 
intellectual tendencies of the Renaissance, as though the 
achievements were the man! The figure crosses the 
stage of life in triumph, playing to perfection many parts ! 


But of these enough ! Let us try to come nearer, to get 
past the cloak of his activities, and essay to c pluck the 
heart out of this mystery.* As a means towards this end, 
let us consider his attitude with regard to certain of the 
problems of life. 

His writings inculcate the highest morality, though 
rather as a reasoned process of the mind than as a revela- 
tion from an external authority. He preserves so com- 
plete a reticence on the subject of doctrinal belief as to 
leave very little base for inference as to his faith or lack of 
faith. The statement of Vasari that he did not conform 
to any religion, deeming it better perhaps to be a philoso- 
pher than a Christian, was omitted in the second edition 
of the Lives, and may therefore be looked upon as 
probably merely a crystallisation of some piece of Flor- 
entine gossip. It would be idle to attempt to surmise 
as to the reason of the withdrawal. To whatever cause 
it may have been due, its significance is no whit the less 
as outweighing a mass of suggestion and vain repetition 
on this subject by later writers. In temperament Leo- 
nardo has something akin to certain of the precursors or 
the Reformation. In any conflict between the dictates 
of reason and of authority, he would be found on the 
side of freedom of thought. * Whoever,' he wrote, * in 
discussion adduces authority uses not his intellect but 
rather memory/ 

The " cast of his mind was anti-clerical. His in- 
dignation at the abuses and corruption of the Church 
found expression in satire as direct and 'piercing as that 
of Erasmus. His scorn of the vices of the priesthood, 
of their encouragement of superstition, of the trade in 


miracles and pardons, which is eloquently expressed in 
the section of his writings known as c the prophecies/ 
may not unnaturally have earned for him the title of 
heretic from those whom he attacked- His quarrel lay, 
however, not with the foundations on which faith rested, 
but with what he conceived to be its degradation in 
practice by its votaries. His own path lay along the 
field of scientific inquiry ; but where the results of this 
research seemed at variance with revealed truth, he 
would reserve the issue, disclaiming the suggestion of 
antagonism. Nature indeed cannot break her own laws. 
The processes of science are sure,~but there are regions 
where we cannot follow them. *Our body is subject 
to heaven, and heaven is subject to the spirit/ So at 
the conclusion of a passage describing the natural origin 
of life, he adds, ' I speak not against the sacred books, 
for they are supreme truth.* The words seem a protest 
against the sterile discussion of these things. There is 
indeed a reticence in the expression of the formulas of 
faith, but the strands of its presence may be seen in the 
web of life. 

The impelling necessity to use life fully is the ever 
recurrent burden of his moral sayings : 

* Life well spent is long.* 

'Thou, O God, dost sell unto us all good things at the price 
of labour.' 

*As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used 
brings happy death/ 

This vision of the end is steadfast. Death follows 
life even as sleep rounds off the day, and as we work 
well in the day, so sleep when it comes is happy and 


untroubled. During the passing of the day there is so 
much to be done, such opportunity to construct and to 
observe, so much knowledge to be won about this world 
wherein the day is passed, that there is scarce time re- 
maining in which to stand in fear and wonder at thought 
of what chimeras the coming shadow may hold within it. 
It is better to use to-day than to spend it in questioning 
of to-morrow. Duty in life is clear and we must follow 
it. When he speaks of what comes after, it is with that 
hesitance common to all, unless to speak of it be made 
habituate by custom, for to all, whatever be their belief, 
there yet remains something unknowable in the condi- 
tions of the change. 

In one of the most beautiful passages of his writings, 
a fragment on time, the destroyer Leonardo de- 
scribes Helen in her old age as looking into her mirror 
and seeing there the wrinkles which time had imprinted 
on her face, and then weeping, and wondering why she 
had been twice carried away. Beautiful as is the descrip- 
tion, the hand which penned it is pre-eminently that of 
the scientist ; we seem to see the anatomist at work with 
the scalpel, so minute is the observation therein revealed 
as to the effect of age and of the relentless approach of 
death upon the human frame. 

The frequent recurrence in his writings and in his 
drawings and grotesques of the physical tokens of decay 
and death argues, however, no morbid predilection such as 
was that shown by the painters of the danse macabre. It 
forms a proportioned part of his study and c patient ex- 
position* of the origin and development of the whole 


there is no incursion of the personal note. His attitude 
is always that of an observer, looking with curious eyes, 
noting all the phenomena of physical change, but yet 
all the while preserving a strange impassivity. He never 
in any of his works or in his manuscripts gives the 
suggestion of possessing any of that regret at the passing 
of time which rings through Giorgione's sun-steeped 
idyls. Indeed, from all such lament, he expressly dis- 
sociates himself. Time, he assevers, stays long enough 
for those who use it. The mere fact of the inevitability 
of death forbids regret. It therefore cannot be an evil. 
He speaks of it as taking away the memory of evil, and 
compares it with the sleep which follows after the day. 
The thought of this sleep brings silence : when on rare 
occasion the silence is broken, he stands with Shake- 
speare and Montaigne, revealing, as they do, when they 
address themselves to the same question, a quiet confi- 
dence, serene and proud. 

The author of Virginibus Puerisque discoursing whim- 
sically upon the incidence and attributes of the tender 
passion, professes his utter inability to comprehend how 
any member of his own sex, with at most two exceptions, 
can ever have been found worthy to be its object. * It 
might be very well,' he says, < if the Apollo Belvedere 
should suddenly glow all over into life, and step forward 
from the pedestal with that god-like air of his. But of 
the misbegotten changelings who call themselves men 
and prate intolerably over dinner-tables, I never saw one 
who seemed worthy to inspire love no, nor read of 
any except Leonardo da Vinci and perhaps Goethe in his 


The suggestion as to the Apollo Belvedere is in entire 
harmony with the associations of the names which follow. 
For if it had ever come to pass, as is conjectured in 
Heine's fantasy, that the gods of Greece, after their 
worship ceased, fallen on days of adversity, and con- 
strained to baser uses, had walked the earth as men, surely 
no lives whereof record holds had come more naturally to 
Apollo's lot than would those of Goethe and Leonardo ! 

It would be vain to attempt to find better instances, 
yet these give only a capricious support at best to 
Stevenson's contention. They afford far more proof 
of his amazing temerity in attempting to view the 
kingdom of sentiment from the feminine standpoint. 
These two names he ranks together in isolation from the 
rest of their sex and this in respect precisely of that 
condition wherein the records of their lives reveal the 
least resemblance. Goethe was as susceptible and almost 
as fickle as Jupiter himself. The story of his heart is a 
romance with many chapters, each enshrining a new name, 
and all ending abruptly at the stage at which the poet 
remembers at times somewhat tardily the paramount 
claims of his art. 

But in the case of Leonardo there are no grounds for 
supposing that any one such chapter was ever begun. None 
of his biographers connect his name with that of any 
woman in the way of love, nor do his own writings afford 
any such indication. They show that he lived only for 
the things of the mind. He would seem to have re- 
nounced deliberately all thought of participation in the 
tenderness of human relationship. He looked upon it 
as alien to the artist's supreme purpose : he must 


needs be solitary in order to live entirely for his art. 
His conception of the mental conditions requisite for 
the production of great art presupposes something 
of that isolation expressed in Pater's phrase: *each 
mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of 
a world/ 

The praise of solitude has ever been a fecund theme, 
although much of the fervour of its votaries has resulted 
in little more than a reverberation of the monkish jingle, 
c O heata solitudo, O sola beatitudo/ In so far as praise 
of solitude is dispraise of the world and fellow-men and 
the expression of desire to shun them and their activities 
it is a sterile thing and worse. Solitude is unnatural 
and only the use of it can justify the condition. May 
be that even then the dream will never come to birth ! 
Certain it is that if it does we must suffer the pangs 

Concentration of the* mind comes by solitude ; and 
in this, according to Leonardo, its value to the artist 
consists. (Se tu sarai solo tu sarai tutto tuo.) 

*If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself, 
If you are accompanied even by one companion you 
belong only half to yourself, or even less in proportion 
to the thoughtlessness of his conduct . . . If you must 
have companionship choose it from your studio ; it may 
then help you to obtain the advantages which result from 
different methods of study/ 

Such companionship of the studio implies some such 
measure of equality of attainment as it can never have 
been his own lot to meet with after leaving the circle of 
Verrocchio and the art world of Florence. His own 


later companions of the studio were his pupils and 
servants, and the only one of these whom he admitted 
to any degree of personal intimacy was Francesco de* 
Melzi, who seems to have stood to him in the concluding 
years of his life almost in the position of 'a son to a 

Behind all his strength lay springs of tenderness ; in 
life confined within the strait limits whereby his spirit 
proposed that its work should be more surely done, in 
his art they are manifest, therein revealing the repression 
of his life. His pictures are now so few that it would 
be to his drawings that we should chiefly look for support 
of this statement, and of these primarily perhaps to the 
many studies for Madonna pictures, and the sketches of 
children made in connection with them ; also, however, 
to the two versions of the composition of the Madonna 
and Child with S. Anne. The differences between that 
in Burlington House and that in the Louvre show the 
artist's gradual growth of purpose. One motive, how- 
ever, is found in both, namely, that the Madonna is 
represented as so entirely absorbed in her Child that she 
is entirely unconscious of aught else. With the excep- 
tion of the Madonna della Seggiola, and perhaps certain 
others of Raphael's Madonnas, there is no Madonna 
picture in Italian art in which the conception is more 
human or the ecstasy of motherhood is rendered with 
greater tenderness. So Tart console de la vie'; and 
the same may be said in Leonardo's case of nature 
perhaps even more truly than of art. If indeed any 
thought of consolation can be suffered in connection 
with a life so confident and full ! For man's work is 


his ultimate self. Such human hopes as begin and end 
in the individual are puny even in their highest fulfil- 
ment, and the processes of nature, whatever their final 
end, seem eternal in contrast with their transience. He 
interpreted man's highest aim to consist in seeking to 
know and to hand on the lamp of knowledge. 

The task of the student who should attempt to discern 
Leonardo amid the mass of tradition was compared with 
that ascribed to himself by the author of Aetna. In one 
of the noblest and most eloquently sustained passages of 
that work, the poet characterises the investigation of 
the forces of nature, and of the various phenomena of 
earth, sea, and sky, as the highest of all the objects of 
intellectual effort, and one which constituted in itself its 
own highest reward. The lines serve as a description 
of Leonardo's purpose, and his writings reveal how far 
this purpose was accomplished. 

Non oculis solum pecudum miranda tucri 
More, nee effusos in humum graue pascerc corpus, 
Nosse fidcm rcrum dubiasquc cxquirerc causas, 
Ingenium sacrarc caputqir attollerc caelo, 
Scire quot ct quae smt magno natalia mundo 
Principia, occasus mctuunt an saccula pergunt, . . , 

Et quaecumque iaccnt tamo miracula mundo 
Non disiecta pati, ncc aceruo condita rcrum, 
Sed manifesta notis certa dibponere scdc 
Singula, diuina ebt animi ac iucunda uoluptas 


IN the opening lines of the volume of manuscript notes 

* begun at Florence in the house of Piero di Braccio 
Martelli, on the 22nd day of March, 1508,' now in 
the British Museum (Arundel MSS. 263), Leonardo 
explains the method of its composition. The passage 
may serve to summarise the impression made by the 
whole mass of Leonardo's manuscripts. * This,' he says, 

* will be a collection without order, made up of many 
sheets which I have copied here, hoping afterwards to 
arrange them in order in their proper places according 
to the subjects of which they treat ; and I believe that 
before I am at the end of this 1 shall have to i epeat the 
same thing several times ; and therefore, O reader, 
blame me not, because the subjects are many, and the 
memory cannot retain them and say "this I will not 
write because I have already written it " ; and if I wished to 
avoid falling into this mistake- it would be necessary, in 
order to prevent repetition, that on every occasion when I 
wished to transcribe a passage I should always read over 
all the preceding portion, and this especially because long 
periods of time elapse between one time of writing and 
another.' Certain pages in the volume of manuscript in 
the British Museum would indeed seem to be of a much 
earlier date than this introductory sentence, and the 
whole body of the manuscripts as may be shown by the 



time-references contained in them, extend over a period 
of some forty years, from Leonardo's early manhood to 
his old age. He commenced them during the time of 
his first residence in Florence, and was still adding to 
them when at Amboise. 

The contents of this * collection without order * are so 
diversified as to render wellnigh impossible any attempt 
at formal classification. In addition to the numerous 
fragments of letters, the personal records, the notes 
relating to his work as an artist, and the fragments of 
imaginative composition which are to be found therein, 
it presents by far the most complete record of his mental 
activity, and this may be said without exaggeration to 
have extended into practically all the avenues of human 
knowledge. These manuscripts serve in a sense to show 
the mind in its workshop, busied in researching, in 
making conjecture, and in recording phenomena, 
tempering to its uses, in so far as human instrument 
may, the vast forces of nature. 

He projected many treatises which should embody the 
results of these researches. Notes in the manuscripts 
themselves record the various stages of their composition. 
Some still exist in a more or less complete form. Of 
the "fragments of others the order of arrangement is now 
only a matter of conjecture. In the manuscripts at 
Windsor, which treat mainly of anatomy, a note, dated 
April 2, 1489, speaks of writing the book * about the 
human figure/ The manuscript given to the Ambrosian 
Library by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, now MS. C. of 
the Institut de France, which is a treatise on light and 
shade, contains a note that * on the ^3rd day of April 


1490, I commenced this book and recommenced the 
horse' the latter reference being to the equestrian 
statue of Francesco Sforza. In August 1499 a note in 
the Codice Atlantic states that he was then writing 
< upon movement and weight* These dates are, how- 
ever, of relatively less importance, because each of these 
subjects occupied his thoughts during a long period of 
years. The two first formed a part of the artist's com- 
plete equipment as Leonardo conceived it : the third 
found practical issue in his undertakings in canalisation 
and engineering in Lombardy, Tuscany, Romagna, and 
elsewhere. In connection with the former of these two 
divisions of his activities may be cited the treatise on the 
nature of water in the possession of the Earl of Leicester, 
and the same subject is also treated of among others in 
MS. F. of the Institut, which, according to a note, was 
commenced at Milan on the lath of September 1508. 

The manuscripts as a whole are picturesquely described 
in the diary of a certain Antonio de Beads, the secretary 
of the Cardinal of Aragon, who with his patron visited 
Leonardo at Amboise in October 1517. The many 
wanderings of the painter's life were then ended, and he 
was living with Francesco Melzi and his servant Battista 
de Villanis in the manor house of Clcux, the gift of 
Francis r. The diary relates that he showed his guests 
three pictures, the S. John, the Madonna with S. Anne, 
and the portrait of a Florentine lady, painted at the 
request of Guiliano de* Medici, which cannot now be 
identified. It further states that paralysis had attacked 
his right hand, and that therefore he could no longer 
paint with such sweetness as formerly, but still occupied 


himself in making drawings and giving instruction to 
others. (May the inference be that he then drew with 
the left hand? If so he presumably used it in the 
manuscripts, which are written backwards.) 

'This gentleman has/ he continues, 'written of 
anatomy with such wealth of detail, illustrating by his 
art both limbs and muscles, nerves, veins and ligaments 
of the inward parts, and of all that may be demonstrated 
in the bodies of men and of women, in a way that has 
never before been equalled by any one else. And this 
we have seen with our own eyes, and he has also told us 
that he has dissected more than thirty bodies of men 
and women of all different ages. He has also treated of 
the nature of water, of various machines, and of other 
matters which he has dealt with in an endless number of 
volumes, and all in the common tongue, which when they 
are made public will be profitable and very delectable/ 
This description of the manuscripts the only one by an 
eyewitness during Leonardo's lifetime leads naturally 
to the supposition that, if not all, at any rate by far the 
greater part of them were in Leonardo's possession at 
the time that he went to France, and were at Cloux at 
the time of his death. 

The manuscripts then passed into the possession of 
Francesco Mclzi, to whom Leonardo in his will, dated 
April 23, 1518, bequeathed * in return for the services and 
favours done him in the past/ * each and all of the books 
of which the said Testator is at present possessed, together 
with the other instruments and portraits which belong to 
his art and calling as a Painter/ Melzi returned to 
Milan shortly after Leonardo's death and took the 


manuscripts with him, and four years later a certain 
Alberto Bendedeo, writing from Milan to Alfonso d'Este, 
said that he believed that the Melzi whom Leonardo made 
his heir was in possession of c such of his notebooks as 
treated of anatomy and many other beautiful things/ 

Vasari visited Milan in 1566, and he states that Melzi, 
whom he saw, and who was then c a beautiful and gentle 
old man/ possessed a great part of Leonardo's papers of 
the anatomy of the human body and kept them with as 
much care as though they were relics. Some of the 
manuscripts had already at this time passed into other 
hands, for Vasari refers to some which treated of painting 
and methods of drawing and colouring as being then in 
the possession of a certain Milanese painter whose name 
he does not mention. The care which had been taken 
of those in Melzi's possession ceased at his death, which 
occurred in 1570. Some years later no restriction was 
placed by Melzi's heirs upon the action of a certain 
Lelio Gavardi di Asola, a tutor in the Melzi family, who 
took thirteen of the volumes of manuscripts with him to 
Florence for the purpose of disposing of them to the 
Grand Duke, Francesco. The duke's death, however, 
prevented the realisation of this project, and Gavardi 
subsequently took the volumes with him to Pisa. 
Giovanni Ambrogio Mazzenta, a Milanese who was 
then at the University of Pisa studying law, remonstrated 
with Gavardi upon his conduct, and with such success 
that on Mazzenta's return to Milan in 1587 he took the 
volumes with him for the purpose of restoring them to 
the Melzi family. When, however, he attempted to 
perform this duty Dr. Orazio Melzi was so astonished 


at his solicitude in the matter that he made him a present 
of all the thirteen volumes, telling him further that there 
were many other drawings by Leonardo lying uncared 
for in the attics of his villa at Vaprio. In 1590 
Giovanni Ambrogio Mazzenta joined the Barnabite 
Order and the volumes were then given by him to his 
brothers. They seem to have talked somewhat freely 
about the incident, and in consequence, according to 
Ambrogio Mazzenta's account, many people were filled 
with the desire to obtain similar treasures, and Orazio 
Melzi gave away freely drawings, clay models, anatomical 
studies, and other precious relics from Leonardo's studio. 
Among the others who thus came into possession of 
works by Leonardo was the sculptor Pompeo Leoni who 
was employed in the service of the King of Spain. He 
afterwards induced Orazio Melzi, by the promise of 
obtaining for him official honours and preferment, to 
appeal to Guido Mazzenta, in whose possession they then 
were, to restore the volumes of Leonardo's manuscripts 
so that he might be enabled to present them to Philip n. 
Melzi's entreaties were successful in obtaining the return 
of seven volumes, and three of the others subsequently 
passed into Pompeo Leoni's possession on the death of 
one of the Mazzenta. Of the remaining three, accord- 
ing to Mazzenta's account, one was given to the Cardinal 
Federico Borromeb, and passed into the Ambrosian 
Library, which he founded in 1603 ; another was given to 
the painter Ambrogio Figini, who afterwards bequeathed 
it to Ercole Bianchi ; it was subsequently in the possession 
of Joseph Smith, English Consul at Venice, and with 
the sale of his effects in 1759 a ^ record of it ends ; the 


third was given to Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy, 
and nothing further is known as to its history. Professor 
Govi has conjectured that it was perhaps burnt in one of 
the fires which occurred in the Royal Library at Turin in 
1667 or 1679. 

Some of the volumes of the manuscripts which had 
passed into the possession of Pompeo Leoni were after- 
wards cut in pieces by him in order to form one large 
volume from the leaves, together with some of the 
drawings which he had obtained from Melzi's vittk at 
Vaprio, This volume, known as the Codice Atlantico 
on account of its size, contains four hundred and two 
sheets and more than seventeen hundred drawings, and 
bears on its cover the inscription : 







Apparently the collector's instinct proved stronger in 
Pompeo Leoni than his original intention. He was 
subsequently in Madrid where he was engaged in execut- 
ing bronzes for the royal tombs in the Escurial, but there 
is no evidence to show that he ever parted with any 
of Leonardo's manuscripts to Philip n/ The Codice 
Atlantico remained in his possession until his death 
in 1 6 10, and then passed to his heir, Polidoro Calchi, by 
whom it was sold in 1625 to Count Galeazzo ArconatL 
Two of Leonardo's manuscripts in Pompeo Leoni's 


possession were included among his effects sold after his 
death at Madrid, and were then bought by Don Juan 
de Espina. It would seem probable that others of the 
manuscripts in Pompeo Leoni's possession descended to 
his heir Calchi, and from him passed into the possession 
of Count Arconati, because the latter in 1636 pre- 
sented twelve volumes of Leonardo's manuscripts to 
the Ambrosian Library at Milan. The volume which 
Mazzenta had given to Cardinal Federico Borromeo had 
already been placed there in 1603, and in 1674 yet 
another volume of Leonardo's manuscripts was added by 
the gift of Count Orazio Archinti. 

Of the list of twelve manuscripts as described in Count 
Arconati's deed of gift to the Ambrosian Library, the 
second was afterwards lost, and the fifth was removed 
from the Library, it being, as the description shows, 
identical with the manuscript of Leonardo's which in 
about the year 1750 was bought from a Gaetano Caccia 
of Novara by Carlo Trivulzio and is now in the posses- 
sion of Prince Trivulzio at Milan. The remaining ten 
manuscripts of the Arconatz donation, together with 
the two from Cardinal Federico Borromeo and Count 
Archinti respectively, were in the Ambrosian Library 
until 1796. There was then also with them a manuscript 
of ten sheets which treated of the eye, the provenance of 
which is unknown, but which it is conjectured had been 
substituted for the manuscript now in the collection of 
Prince Trivulzio. These thirteen manuscripts were all 
remove^ .0 Paris in the year 1796 in pursuance of the 
decree of Bonaparte as General-in-Chief of the Army of 
nf -jo Florcal An IV. (May 19, 1796), providing 


for the appointment of an agent who should select such 
pictures and other works of art as might be worthy of 
transmission to France. The Codice Adantico was in 
the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris in August 1796. 
The other twelve volumes of the manuscripts were 
deposited in the Institut de France. In 1 8 1 5 the Austrian 
Ambassador, as representing Lombardy, made application 
for the return of all the Leonardo manuscripts. The 
request was complied with as regards the Codice 
Atlantico, which was then restored to the Ambrosian 
Library at Milan, but the twelve volumes in the library 
of the Institut de France were apparently overlooked, 
and there they have since remained. 

On their arrival in France the manuscripts were 
described by J. B. Venturi, who then marked them with 
the lettering whereby they have subsequently been dis- 
tinguished. He gave their total number as fourteen, 
because MS. B contained an appendix of eighteen pages 
which could be separated and considered as the four- 
teenth volume. 

This manuscript is identical with No. 3 in the Arconati 
donation, which is described as having at the end a small 
* volumetto * of eighteen pages containing various mathe- 
matical figures and drawings of birds. This * volumetto ' 
seems in fact to have been treated somewhat as Venturi 
suggests by Count Guglielmo Libri, who frequently had 
access to the manuscripts in the Institut de Fhuice in the 
early part of last century, and who apparently abstracted 
it at some time previous to 1848, at which date its loss 
was discovered. In 1868 it was sold by Libri to Count 
Giacomo Manzoni of Lugo, and in 1892 it was acquired 


from Count Manxoni's heirs by M. Sabachnikoff, by 
whom it was published in the following year as // Coaice 
sul Vok degll Uccetti (edit Piumati and Sabachnikoff, 
Paris, 1893). 

Two other manuscripts by Leonardo of sixty-eight 
and twenty-six pages respectively, now in the Biblio- 
thfeque Nationale (Nos. 2038 and 2037), must have 
originally formed part of the manuscripts A and B of the 
Institute. They tally both in the dimensions of the pages 
and in the subjects of which they treat, and their total 
numbers added to those of Manuscripts A and B respec- 
tively do not amount to quite the full numbers of the 
leaves which these two manuscripts possessed in 1636, 
as described in the list of tl * Arconati donation* 
The two manuscripts in the Bibliothique Nationale 
were formerly in the collection of the late Earl of 
Ashburnham, who purchased them in 1875 from Count 
Libri, from whom, as we have seen, Count Manzoni had 
purchased the little volume *on the Flight of Birds/ 
The mutilation of Manuscripts A and B of the Institute 
and the removal of the * volumetto * was first discovered 
in the year 1848. It is impossible to avoid the inference 
that each was the work of Count Libri. The two 
manuscripts of the Bibliotheque Nationale have been 
included in the edition of the manuscripts of the Institute 
published in facsimile, with a transcript and French 
translation by M. Ravaisson-Mollien, in six volumes 
(Paris, 1880-1891). 

The Codice Atlantico has also now been published in 
facsimile, with a transcript, under the direction of the 
Accademia dci Lincei, at Rome (1894- 1904); and the 


manuscript in the possession of Prince Trivulzio, which 
was formerly as we have seen in the Ambrosian Library 
as one of the Arconati bequest, has been published in 
facsimile with a transcript by Signer Beltrami (Milan, 

We may now consider the Arconati bequest from 
another standpoint. The count's munificence was com- 
memorated in the following inscription, which was set in 
marble on the wall of the staircase of the Ambrosian 
Library : 

Leonard! . Vincii 
manu . et * ingenio . celeberrimi 
lucubrationum . volumina . XII 

babes . o . civis 

Galeaz . Arconatus 

inter . optimates . tuos 

bonarum . artium . cultor . optimus 

repudiatis . regio . animo 
quos . angliae . rex . pro . uno . tantum . ofFerebat 

aureis . ter . mille . hispanicis 

ne . tibi . tanti . viri . deesset . ornamentum 

bibliothecae . ambrosianae . consecravit 

ne . tanti . largitoris . deesset . memoria 

quern * sanguis . quern . mores 

Magno . Federico , fimdatori 

bibliothecae . conservatores 


*The glorious (boasting) inscription* so described 
in the Memoirs of John Evelyn has naturally attracted 
the attention of English travellers. Evelyn records his 
failure to obtain a sight of the manuscripts when he 
visited Milan in 1646, owing to the keeper of them 


being away and having taken the keys, but states that 
he had been informed by the Lord Marshal, the Earl 
of Arundel, that all of them were small except one 
book, a huge folio containing four hundred leaves * full 
of scratches of Indians/ and * whereas/ he says, e the in- 
scription pretends that our King Charles had offered 
1000 for them, my lord himself told me that it was 
he who treated with Galeazzo for himselfe in the name 
and by the permission of the king, and that the Duke of 
Feria, who was then Governor, should make the bar- 
gain : but my lord having seen them since did not think 
them of so much worth/ The inscription, however, 
does not mention the name of the king. Addison, in 
his * Remarks on Several Parts of Italy/ in describing his 
visit to Milan in 1701, mentions the Ambrosian Library 
as containing c a manuscript of Leonardus Vincius, wich 
King James i. could not procure, tho' he profer'd for it 
three thousand Spanish pistoles'; and the monarch in 
question is also stated to have been James r. in the 
fuller record of the Arconati donation. The Duke of 
Feria was Governor of Milan from 1610 to 1633, 
during a part of the reign of both monarchs. 

Apparently, however, the manuscripts only passed 
into the possession of Count Arconati in 1625, the 
year of the death of James i., and this renders it more 
probable that the monarch referred to was Charles r. 
But the question of under which king has relatively 
little import, and with regard to the inscription, it may 
perhaps be well to recall the dictum of Dr, Johnson, * in 
lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath/ The only 


instance is that the manuscripts by Leonardo now in the 
Royal Collection at Windsor did not- form part of the 
Arconati Collection. This is also confirmed by the 
testimony of Lord Arundel, as recounted by Evelyn. 
That some of the Leonardo manuscripts at Windsor 
were once in the possession of Lord Arundel is estab- 
lished by the fact of the existence of an engraving of 
one of the drawings by Hollar, whom Lord Arundel 
brought from Prague and established in London, in- 
scribed * Leonardus da Vinci sic olim delineavit. W. 
Hollar fecit ex collectione Arundeliana.' That some of 
these Windsor manuscripts were also formerly in the 
Collection of Pompeo Leoni is clearly shown by the 
fact that one of the volumes is inscribed * Disegni di 
Leonardo da Vinci Restaurati da Pompeo Leoni/ 

Now two of the manuscripts in Pompeo Leoni's col- 
lection were, as has been already stated, purchased in 
Madrid after his death by Don Juan de Espina ; and 
Mr. Alfred Marks, from whose important contribu- 
tions to this branch of the subject in the Athenaeum of 
February 23 and July 6, 1878, many of the foregoing 
facts are derived, has shown that for one at any 
rate of these volumes, the Earl of Arundel was in 
treaty with Don Juan de Espina. The evidence of this 
is to be found in a note by Endymion Porter, of the date 
1629, printed by Mr. Sainsbury in his Original Unpub- 
lished Papers illustrative of the Life of Rubens : * of such 
things as my Lord Embassador S r Francis Cottington is 
to send out of Spain for my Lord of Arondell ; and not 
to forget the booke of drawings of Leonardo de Vinze 
w ch is in Don Juan 4 de Espinas hands * (p. 294). Don 


Juan seems for a time to have proved obdurate, for Lord 
Arundel wrote on January i9th, 1636, to Lord Aston, 
who was then ambassador to Spain, * I beseech y u be 
mindfull of D. Jhon. de Spinas booke, if his foolish 
humour change' (p. 299). There the record breaks off. 
But as Mr. Marks truly observes, there can be little doubt 
that eventually a change did take place in Don Juan's 
c foolish humour/ At whatever date this happened, the 
volume passed into Lord Arundel's possession. The 
earl may either have been negotiating for himself or for 
the king. If the former was the case, the book may 
presumably have passed into the Royal Collection at any 
time after 1646, when on the death of Lord Arundel, 
his collections were partially dispersed. If not acquired 
previously, the volume may have been bought in Holland 
by an agent of Charles n. 

The earliest record of any of Leonardo's manuscripts 
or drawings as being in the royal possession occurs in 
an inventory found by Dr. Richter in the Manuscript 
Department of the British Museum, which states that 
some drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, marked with a 
cross, were delivered for her Majesty's use in the year 
1728. , 

Dr. Richter also cites a note in an inventory at 
Windsor Castle written at the beginning of last century, 
in which a drawing of Leonardo's is referred to as not 
having been in the volume compiled by Pompeo Leoni, 
but in one of the volumes in the Buoufiluolo Collection 
bought at Venice. Nothing, apparently, is known about 
the collection here referred to, but the note is important 
as tending to prove that the manuscripts by Leonardo 


now at Windsor, were not all acquired at the same 
time, and did not all form part of Pompeo Leoni's 

The volume of manuscript now in the British Museum 
(Arundel MSS., 263) was certainly once in the possession 
of Lord Arundel. Nothing is known of its history 
previous to this, and whether or no it belonged to 
Pompeo Leoni, or was acquired by purchase from Don 
Juan de Espina, it would be idle to attempt to con- 
jecture. Lord Arundel had numerous agents in various 
parts of Europe, who were- employed in collecting 
antiquities and works of art. It may, however, be noted 
that the greater part of his collection of manuscripts vas 
acquired by the earl himself at Nuremberg in 1636, 
and had formerly belonged to Wilibald Pirkheimer the 
humanist, the friend of Erasmus and Durer. If any 
opportunity presented itself to him, Pirkheimer would 
certainly have possessed himself of any manuscript of 
Leonardo's ; but to suppose him to have done so would 
be to assume that some of the manuscripts passed into 
other hands during Leonardo's life-time, and this, though 
by no means impossible, is at any rate improbable. 

The only other manuscripts by Leonardo now known 
to exist, with the exceptions' of a few separate sheets of 
sketches and diagrams with explanatory text, are three 
small note-books in the Forster Library at South Ken- 
sington, and a volume of seventy-two pages in the 
possession of the Earl of Leicester at Holkham Hall. 
The former were acquired in Vienna for a small sum by 
the first Earl of Lytton and by him presented to Mr. 
Forster ; the latter, according to a note on the title-page, 


once belonged to the painter Giuseppe Ghezzi, who was 
living in Rome at the beginning of the eighteenth century, 
it having presumably been acquired by the first Earl of 
Leicester, who spent some years in Rome previous to 
1775, anc * there acquired many art treasures. Its 
previous history is unknown. This volume a treatise 
on the nature of water is in all probability that referred 
to by Rafaelle du Fresne in the sketch of Leonardo's 
life which appears in his edition of the Trattato ddla 
Pittura, published in Paris in 1651, where it is stated 
that * the undertaking of the canal of the Martesana was 
the occasion of his writing a book on the nature, weight, 
and motion of water, full of a great number of drawings 
of various wheels and engines for mills to regulate the 
flow of water and raise it to a height.' 

Of such of the manuscripts at Windsor as treat of 
anatomy, two volumes with facsimiles, transcripts, and 
translations have been issued by Messrs. Piumati and 
Sabachnikoff (Paris, 1898), (Turin, 1901), The rest of 
the manuscripts at Windsor and the other manuscripts 
in England have not as yet been published, though fac- 
similes of those at Windsor and of portions of those 
in London have been issued in a series of volumes by 

As Leonardo's fame as a writer has chiefly rested upon 
the treatise on Painting, it may not be out of place here 
to attempt to state the relation which this work bears to 
the original manuscripts. 

The treatise was first published by Rafaelle du Fresne, 
in Paris, in 1651, a French translation by Roland Freard 
sieur de Chambrai being also issued in the same year- 


Du Fresne derived his text from two old copies of 
MS. 834 in the Barberini Library, which manuscript 
has now presumably been transferred to the Vatican, 
at the same time as the other contents of that Library. 
One of these copies had been made by the Cavaliere 
Cassiano del Pozzo, who had given it in 1640 to M. 
Chanteloup, by whom it was presented to du Fresne for 
the preparation of his edition ; the other was lent him 
for the same object by M. Thevenot. 

Another edition of the Treatise was issued in 1 8 1 7 by 
Guglielmo Manzi, who took as his text a manuscript in 
the Vatican Library (Cod. Vat. (Urbinas) 1270), which 
had formerly belonged to the Library of the Dukes of 
Urbino. This manuscript is by far the more complete 
of the two, five out of the eight books which it contains 
being wanting in the version followed by du Fresne. 
There are, however, many omissions in Manzi's edition, 
and the only adequate critical edition of the Vatican 
manuscript is that published by H. Ludwig (Leonardo 
da Find: Das Buck von der Malerei (Bd. xv-xviii 
of >uellenschriften ftir Kunstgeschichte, etc., Edit. R. 
Eitelberger v. Edelberg), Vienna, 1882, Stuttgart 1885). 
This contains the complete text, together with a German 
translation and commentary, and also an analysis of the 
differences which exist between the manuscripts in the 
Vatican and Leonardo's own manuscripts. 

The Vatican manuscript probably dates from the 
beginning of the sixteenth century. It has been ascribed 
to some immediate pupil of Leonardo's, for choice either 
Francesco Melzi or Salai,, but there is no evidence which 
can be held to establish this view. Its close connection 


with Leonardo is however indisputable. Whether this 
be the original form or no, the compilation was un- 
doubtedly made previous to the dispersal of the manu- 
scripts. About a quarter of the whole number of 
paragraphs (two hundred and twenty-five out of nine 
hundred and forty-four) are identical with passages in 
the extant manuscripts. Many others, which are not 
now to be found in any form in the manuscripts, yet 
carry their lineage incontestably, and would afford a 
sufficient proof, were this lacking in the chequered history 
of the various volumes, that some of the manuscripts 
have now perished ; that, as with Leonardo as painter so 
also as writer, time has spared only the fragments of his 
work. The compiler of the Treatise on Painting had 
access to manuscripts, and probably also to sources of 
information as to the artist's intentions, of which we have 
no record. He presumably followed what he conceived 
to be the scheme of the artist's work. Nevertheless, 
Leonardo cannot be adjudged directly or even indirectly 
responsible for the arrangement and divisions of this 
treatise, and it is somewhat difficult to credit him with 
the whole of the contents. Certain of the passages read 
rather as repetitions by a pupil of a theme expounded by 
the master. 

Did Leonardo himself ever give his work definite 
shape ? Did he write a treatise on painting or only parts 
of one ? In Fra Luca PaciolPs dedication to Ludovic 
Sforza of the De Divina Proportion, dated February 9, 
1498, he speaks of Leonardo as having finished *il Libro 
de Pictura et movimenti humani,' and Dr, Ludwig, who 
apparently accepts this statement, puts forward the 


supposition that the treatise was in the possession of 
Ludovic and probably became lost at the time of the 
French invasion of Milan. 

On this same occasion, according to both Vasari and 
Lomazzo, there also perished a treatise by Leonardo on 
the anatomy of the horse, which he had written* in the 
course of his studies for the Sforza statue. 

Vasari, as we have seen, mentions some writings by 
Leonardo c which treat of painting and of the methods of 
drawing and colouring ' as being then in the possession 
of a Milanese painter, who had recently been to see him 
in Florence to discuss their publication, and had taken 
them to Rome in order to carry his intention into effect, 
though with what result Vasari could not say. These 
writings are stated to be c in characters written with the 
left hand, backwards/ and therefore they cannot possibly 
be identical either with the Barberini or the Vatican 
manuscript Seeing that Vasari wrote during Melzi's 
lifetime, it is reasonable to infer that this manuscript had 
at an early date become separated from the others and 
therefore did not form part of the general mass of the 
manuscripts which passed into Melzi's possession at 
Leonardos death, since Vasari states that he kept these 
as though they were relics. As to whether this manu- 
script was identical with the work to which Fra Luca 
Pacioli referred, there is no sufficient evidence on which 
to form an opinion. Moreover, the Prate's testimony 
must not be interpreted too literally. The words of the 
dedication of the De Divina Proportions would naturally 
also suggest that the statue of Francesco Sforza was 
actually cast in bronze, but the general weight of evidence. 


including that of Leonardo's own letters, forbids any 
such supposition. So, in like manner, it may perhaps 
have been that in the case of the treatise on Painting he 
may have spoken of the rough drafts and fragments as 
though they were the completed work. 

The work itself grew continually in the mind of the 
author. It was moulded and recast times without number 
as his purpose changed and expanded in his progress 
along each new avenue of study that revealed afresh the 
kinship of art and nature. It is certain that he never 
wrote c finis.' It is at any rate possible that he never 
halted in investigation for so long time as would be 
necessary to arrange and classify what he had written 
that he left all this to a more convenient season. Genius, 
we should remember, is not apt to be synthetic. 

NOTE. In the references to the manuscripts which follow 
the following abbreviations occur : 

C. A. SB Codice Adantico. 

A y B, etc., to 7, and K y L, Af=MSS. A y 5, etc., to /, and 
K y L) M of the Library of the Institut de France. 

MSS. 2037 and 2038 Bib. A7W. = Nos. 2037 and 2038, 
Italian MSS. Bibliotheque Nationale. 

5Tr, = Codice Trivukiano. 

jB. M, 263 Ar.~ British Museum, Arundel MSS. No, 263. 

S. K. M, i-fiisa South Kensington Museum (Forster 
Bequest) MSS. I-IIL 

Leic. SB MS. in possession of Earl of Leicester. 
. = Richter, J. P., Literary Works of L, da V- 


SEEING that I cannot choose any subject of great 
utility or pleasure, because my predecessors have already 
taken as their own all useful and necessary themes, 
I will do like one who, because of his poverty, is 
the last to arrive at the fair, and not being able other- 
wise to provide himself, chooses all the things which 
others have already looked over and not taken, but 
refused as being of little value. With these despised 
and rejected wares the leavings of many buyers 
I will load my modest pack, and therewith take my 
course, distributing, not indeed amid the great cities, 
but among the mean hamlets, and taking such reward 

as befits the things 1 offer. 

(C, A. 119 v. a.) 


I am fully aware that the fact of my not being 
a man of letters may cause certain arrogant persons 
to think that they may with reason censure me, 
alleging that I am a man ignorant of book-learning. 
Foolish folk ! Do they not know that I might retort 
by saying, as did Marius to the Roman Patricians. 
* They who themselves go about adorned in the labour 
of others will not permit me my own.' They will 
say that because of my lack of book-learning, I 
cannot properly express what I desire to treat of. 



Do they not know that my subjects require for their 
exposition experience rather than the words of others ? 
And since experience has been the mistress of who- 
ever has written well, I take her as my mistress, and 

to her in all points make my appeal. 

(C. A. 119 &. a.) 



THOU, O God, dost sell unto us all good things at the 
price of labour. (Windsor MSS. R 1133.) 

I obey thee, O Lord, first because of the love which 
I ought reasonably to bear thee ; secondly, because thou 
knowest how to shorten or prolong the lives of men. 

(S. K. M. in. 29 r.) 

Our body is subject to heaven, and heaven is subject 
to the spirit (Tr. Tav. 65 a.) 

The soul desires to dwell in the body because without 
the members of that body it can neither act nor feel. 

(C. A. 59 r. t.) 

How admirable thy justice, O thou first mover ! Thou 
hast not willed that any power should lack the processes 
or qualities necessary for its results. (^ 24 r.) 

Instrumental or mechanical science is the noblest and 
above all others the most useful, seeing that by means of 
it all animated bodies which have movement perform all 
their actions ; and the origin of these movements is at 
the centre of their gravity, which is placed in the middle 
with unequal weights at the sides of it, and it has 



scarcity or abundance of muscles and also the action of a 
lever and counter levfer. (Sulvolo degli Uccelli, 3 r.) 

The soul can never be infected by the corruption of 
the body, but acts in the body like the wind which causes 
the sound of the organ, wherein if one of the pipes is 
spoiled, the wind cannot produce a good result in that 
pipe. (Tr. Tav. 71 a.) 

Whoever would see in what state the soul dwells 
within the body> let him mark how this body uses its 
daily habitation, for if this be confused and without 
order, then will the body be kept in disorder and con- 
fusion by the soul. (C. A. 76 /-. a.) 

Music has two ills, the one mortal, the other wasting ; 
the mortal is ever allied with the instant which follows 
that of the music's utterance, the wasting ill lies in its 
repetition, making it seem contemptible and mean. 

(C. A. 382 v. a.) 

The imitation of the antique is more to be praised 
than that of the modern. (C. A. 147 r. a.) 

In life beauty perishes, not in art. ($. K. M. m. 72 r.) 

The painter contends with and rivals nature. 

(S. K. M. Hi. 44 v.) 

The senses are of the earth, the reason stands apart 
from them in contemplation. (Tr. Tav. 60 a.) 

Where there is most power of feeling, there of martyrs 
is the greatest martyr. (Tr. Tav. 35 *.) 


Tears come from the heart not from the brain. 

(Windsor MSS. R 815.) 

Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams 
than the imagination when awake ? 

(B. M. 263, Ar. 278 v.) 

What is it that is much desired by men, but which 
they know not while possessing ? It is sleep. 

(/ 56 [8] r.) 

The thoughts turn towards hope. (C. A. 68 v. b.) 

Pray hold me not in scorn ! I am not poor ! Poor 
rather is the man who desires many things. Where shall 
I take my place ? Where in a little time from hence- 
forth you shall know. Do you answer for yourself! 
From henceforth in a little time. . . 

(C. A. 71 r, a.) 

Vows begin when hope dies. (H 48 v.) 

If liberty is dear to you may you never discover that 
my face is love's prison. (S. K. M. /. 10 v.) 

The lover is drawn by the thing loved, as the sense 
is by that which it perceives, and it unites with 
it, and they become one and the same thing. The 
work is the first thing born of the union ; if the thing 
that is loved be base, the lover becomes base. When the 
thing taken into union is in harmony with that which 
receives it, there follow rejoicing and pleasure and satis- 
faction. When the lover is united to that which is loved 
it finds rest there : when the burden is laid down there 

it finds rest. (Tr. Tav. 9 a.) 



Behold now the hope and desire to go back to our 
own country, and to return to our former state, how 
like it is to the moth with the light ! And the man who 
with perpetual longing ever looks forward with joy to 
each new spring and each new summer, and to the new 
months and the new years, dee'ming that the things he 
longs for are too slow in coming, does not perceive that 
he is longing for his own destruction. But this longing 
is the quintessence and spirit of the eJements, which, 
finding itself imprisoned within the life of the human 
body, 1 desires continually to return to its source. And I 
would have you to know that this very same longing is 
that quintessence inherent in nature, and that man is a 
type of the world. (B. M. 263, Ar. 156 /.) 

In youth acquire that which may requite you for the 
deprivations of old age ; and if you are mindful that old 
age has wisdom for its food, you will so exert yourself in 
youth, that your old age will not lack sustenance. 

(C. A. 112 r. a.} 

We have no lack of system or device to measure and 
to parcel out these poor days of ours ; wherein it should 
be our pleasure that they be not squandered or suffered 
to pass away in vain, and without meed of honour, 
leaving no record of themselves in the minds of men ; 
to the end that this our poor course may not be sped in 
vain. " (c. A. 12 v. a.) 

O thou that sleepest, what is sleep? Sleep is an 
image of death. Oh, why not let your work be such that 

*dcllo vmano chorpo.* 


.V^ . * M , 

>/>< *< ; * , 

?*v <.**+* 

"*> *W*1 f 1 ! !** * 

l*j *"* 4 ; 
<A*rf<v (* -*J 


(Whiff -f 

^1 -tvpf/' 1 ft! At&yf v*fnui f*- * ^ < 

.,?:*.' 'i. ' A v -t 

OM J>W-< 
V N 





after death you become an image of immortality ; as in 
life you become when sleeping like unto the hapless 
dead. (c. A. 76 *. a.) 

Every evil leaves a sorrow in the memory except the 
supreme evil, death, and this destroys memory itself 
together with life. (H 33 v.) 

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well 
used brings happy death. (7>. Tav. 28 a.) 

While I thought that I was learning how to live, I 
have been learning how to die. (c, A. 252 r> a.) 

The age as it flies glides secretly and deceives one and 
another ; nothing is more fleeting than the years, but he 
who sows virtue reaps honour. (c. A. 71 v. a.) 

Iron rusts from disuse ; stagnant water loses its purity 
and in cold weather becomes frozen ; even so does in- 
action sap the vigour of the mind. (c. A. 289 v. e.) 

Life well spent is long. (2>. Tat/. 63 a.) 

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what 
has passed and the first of that which comes : so with 
time present. (Tr. Tav. 63 a.) 

Wrongfully do men lament the flight of time, accusing 
it of being too swift, and not perceiving that its period 
is yet sufficient ; but good memory wherewith nature 
has endowed us causes everything long past to seem 
present- (C. A. 76 r. a.) 


Our judgment does not reckon in their exact and 
proper order things which have come to pass at different 
periods of time ; for many things which happened many 
years ago will seem nearly related to the present, and 
many things that are recent will seem ancient, extending 
back to the far-off period of our youth. And so it is 
with the eye, with regard to distant things, which when 
illumined by the sun seem near to the eye, while many 
things which are near seem far off. (c. A, 29 #. a.) 

O Time, thou that consumest all things ! O envious 
age, thou destroyest all things and devourest all things 
with the hard teeth of the years, little by little, in slow 
death ! Helen, when she looked in her mirror and saw 
the withered wrinkles which old age had made in her 
face, wept, and wondered to herself why ever she had 
twice been carried away. 

O Time, thou that consumest all things ! O envious 

age, whereby all things are consumed ! 

(C. A. 71 r.a.) 

Just as eating contrary to the inclination is injurious 
to the health, so study without desire spoils the memory, 
and it retains nothing that it takes in* 

(MS. 2038, &tt. Nat, 34 r.) 

Wood feeds the fire that consumes it. 

(MS. 2038, Sib. Nat. 34 v.) 

Call not that riches which may be lost ; virtue is our 
true wealth, and the true reward of its possessor* It 
cannot be lost ; it will not abandon us unless life itself 
first leaves us* As for property and material wealth, 


these you should ever hold in fear ; full often they leave 
their possessor in ignominy mocked at for having lost 
possession of them. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 34 ?.) 


This benign nature so provides that all over the world 

you find something to imitate. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 31 r.) 

The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips 
performance. (MS. 2038, Bib. #*/. 33 *.) 

The natural desire of good men is knowledge. 

(C. A. 119 v. a.) 

The knowledge of past time and of the position of the 
earth is the adornment and the food of human minds. 

(C. A. 373 v. a.) 

Nothing can be written as the result of new researches. 

(Tr. Tav. 52 a.) 

All our knowledge originates in opinions. 

(fir. f>* 41 a.) 

Shun those studies in which the work that results 
dies with the worker. ($. jr. Af. /. 55 r.) 

The idea or the faculty of imagination is both rudder 
and bridle to the senses, inasmuch as the thing imagined 
moves the sense. 

Pre-imagining is the imagining of things that are 
to be. 

Post-imagining is the imagining of things that are 
past. (Windsor MSS. Del? Anat. Fogli B 2 r.) 


Whoever in discussion adduces authority uses not 
intellect but rather memory, (C. A. 76 r. a.) 

Good literature proceeds from men of natural probity, 
and since one ought rather to praise the inception than 
the result, you should give greater praise to a man of 
probity unskilled in letters than to one skilled in letters 
but devoid of probity. (C. A. 76 r. a.) 

Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master. 

(S. K. M. Hi. 66 v.) 

Science is the captain, practice the soldiers. 

(/i 3 o[82]r.) 

To devise is the work of the master, to execute the 
act of the servant, (C. A. 109 v* a.) 

Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it 
may thereby escape from its own incompleteness. 

(C. A. 59 r. l) 

There is no certainty where one can neither apply 
any of the mathematical sciences nor any of those which 
are based upon the mathematical sciences. 

(G 96 v.) 

You who speculate on the nature of things, I praise 
you not for knowing the processes which nature 
ordinarily effects of herself, but rejoice if so be that you 
know the issue of such things as your mind conceives. 

(G 47 r.) 

There is no result in nature without a cause ; under- 
stand the cause and you will have no need of the 
experiment. (C. A. 147 *. a.) 


The lying interpreters of nature assert that mercury- 
is a common factor in all the metals ; they forget that 
nature varies its factors according to the variety of the 
things which it desires to produce in the world. 

(C. A. 76 v, a.) 

Nature never breaks her own law. (E 43 v.) 

Nature is constrained by the order of her own law 
which lives and works within her, (C 23 v.) 

Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature. Ne- 
cessity is the theme and artificer of nature, the bridle 
and the eternal law. (S. K. M. in. 43 v.) 

Weight, pressure, and accidental movement together 
with resistance are the four accidental powers in which 
all the visible works of mortals have their existence and 
their end. (S. K. M. U. 116 v.) 

Every weight tends to fall towards the centre by the 
shortest way. (C 28 v.) 

All the elements when removed from their natural 
place desire to return there, especially fire, water, and 
earth. (C 26 v.) 

O mathematicians, throw light on this error. The 
spirit has not voice, for where there is voice there is 
a body, and where there is a body there is occupation of 
space which prevents the eye from seeing things situated 
beyond this space ; consequently this body of itself fills 
the whole surrounding air, that is by its images. 

(C. A. 190 v. 6.) 



The sun so soon as ever it appears in the east instantly 
proceeds with its rays to the west ; and these are made 
up of three incorporeal forces, namely radiance, heat, and 
the image of the shape which produces these. 

The eye so soon as ever it is opened beholds all the 
stars of our hemisphere. 

The mind passes in an instant from the east to the 
west ; and all the great incorporeal things resemble these 
very closely in their speed. (C. A. 204 v. a.) 


After looking at the sun or other luminous object and 
then closing the eyes you will continue to see it as 
before within the eye for a considerable space of time, 
This is a token that the images enter within the eye. 

(C. A. 204 r. a.) 

Just as a stone flung into the water becomes the centre 
and cause of various circles, and a sound produced in 
the air spreads itself out in circles, so each body situated 
La the luminous air is spread out circle-wise and fills 
the surrounding parts with infinite images of itself and 
is present all in the whole and all in every part, 


Experience is never at fault ; it is only your judgment 
that is in error in promising itself such results from ex- 
perience as are not caused by our experiments. For 
having given a beginning, what follows from it must 
necessarily be a natural development of such a beginning, 


unless it has been subject to a contrary influence, while, 
if it is affected by any contrary influence, the result which 
ought to follow from the aforesaid beginning will be 
found to partake of this contrary influence in a greater 
or less degree in proportion as the said influence is 
more or less powerful than the aforesaid beginning. 

(C. A. 154 r. a.) 

Experience is not at fault ; it is' only our judgment 
that is in error in promising itself from experience things 
which are not within her power. 

Wrongly do men cry out against experience and with 
bitter reproaches accuse her of deceitfulness. Let ex- 
perience alone, and rather turn your complaints against 
your own ignorance, which causes you to be so carried 
away by your vain and insensate desires as to expect from 
experience things which are not within her power ! 

Wrongly do men cry out against innocent experience, 
accusing her often of deceit and lying demonstrations ! 

(C. A. 154 v. a.) 

Nature is full of infinite causes which were never set 
forth in experience. (7 18 r.) 

I reveal to men the origin of the first, or perhaps 
the second, cause of their existence, 

(Windsor MSS. R 841.) 

Falsehood is so utterly vile that though it should 
praise the great works of God it offends against His 
divinity ; truth is of such excellence that if it praise the 
meanest things they become ennobled. 

Without doubt truth stands to falsehood in the relation 


of light to darkness, and truth is in itself of such ex- 
cellence that even when it treats of humble and lowly 
matters it yet immeasurably outweighs the sophistries 
and falsehoods which are spread out over great and 
high-sounding discourses; for though we have set up 
falsehood as a fifth element in our mental state it yet 
remains that the truth of things is the chief food of 
all finer intellects though not indeed of wandering 

But you who live in dreams the specious reasonings, 
the feints which falla players might use, if only they 
treat of things vast and uncertain, please you more 
than do the things which are sure and natural and of 
no such high pretension. (SulVolo degli Vccelli, 12 r.) 

The line that is straightest offers most resistance. 

(Tr. Tav. 24 a.) 

He who has most possessions should have the greatest 
fear of loss. (C. A. 109 v. a.) 

Supreme happiness will be the greatest cause of misery, 
and the perfection of wisdom the occasion of folly. 

(C A. 39 *. c.) 

As courage endangers life even so fear preserves it. 
Threats only serve as weapons to the threatened. 
Who walks rightly seldom falls. 

You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure 
what you do not rightly understand. (c. A. 76 v. a.) 

Who goes not ever in fear sustains many injuries and 
often repents. (C. A. 170 r. 6.) 


To speak well of a worthless man is like speaking ill 
of a good man. (s. K. M. Hi. 41 *,) 

Folly is the buckler of shame as importunity is of 
poverty. (Tr. Tav. 52 a.) 

Fear springs to life more quickly than anything else. 

(L 90 v.) 

As evil that harms me not even so is good which does 
not profit me. 

Who injures others regards not himself. (M 4 r.) 

Truth alone was the daughter of time. (M 58 v.) 

He who does not value life deserves it not. (/ 15 r.) 

Ask counsel of him who governs himself well. 

Justice requires power, intelligence, and will. It 
resembles the queen bee. 

He who neglects to punish evil sanctions the doing 

He who takes the snake by the tail is afterwards 
bitten by it. 

He who digs the pit upon him will it fall in ruin. 


He who thinks little makes many mistakes. 

No counsel is more trustworthy than that which is 
given upon- ships that are in peril. 

Let him expect disaster who shapes his course on a 
young man's counsel. (H 119 [24 #.] r.) 


He who expects from experience what she does not 
possess takes leave of reason. (C. A. 299 r. b.} 

Happy is that estate which is seen by the eye of its 

This by experience is proved, that he who never puts 
his trust in any man will never be deceived. 

(C. A. 344 r. b.) 

The memory of benefits is frail as against ingratitude. 
Reprove a friend in secret but praise him before others. 

He who walks in fear of dangers will not perish in 
consequence thereof. 

Lie not about the past. (H 16 v.) 

Bars of gold are refined in the fire. (// 98 [44 bis '.] r.) 

It is by testing that we discern fine gold. 

As is the mould so will be the cast. 

(H 100 [43 r.} v.) 

Every wrong shall be set right. (#99 (.44 *] r *) 

Constancy. Not he who begins, but he who perseveres. 

(H 101 [42 v.] r,) 

He who strips the wall bare on him will it fall. 
He who cuts down the tree on him it takes vengeance 
in its fall. (#i 18(25 v.]r.) 

Obstacles cannot bend me. 
Every obstacle yields to effort. 

He who fixes his course by a star changes not. 

(Windsor MSS. R 682.) 



Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes 
do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the 
cold increases it will have no power to hurt you. So in 
like manner you must grow in patience when you meet 
with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to 
vex your mind. (c. A. 117 v. b.) 

When fortune comes seize her with a firm hand, in 
front, I counsel you, for behind she is bald. 

(C. A. 76 v. a.) 

A simile. A vessel of unbaked clay when broken may 
be remoulded, but not *one that has passed through the 
fire. (Tr. Tav. 68 a.) 

Fame should bt, represented in the shape of a bird, 
but with the whole figure covered with tongues instead 
of feathers. (& 3 *) 

Where fortune enters, there envy lays siege, and 
strives against it, and when this departs it leaves anguish 
and remorse behind. (C. A. 76 v. a.} 

Envy wounds by base calumnies, that is by slander, at 
which virtue is filled with dismay. (# 60 [12] *'.) 

Good Report soars and rises up to heaven, for virtuous 
things find favour with God. Evil Report should be 
shown inverted, for all "her works are contrary to God 
and tend towards hell. (// 61 [i 3] r.) 

This envy is represented making a contemptuous 


motion towards heaven, because if she could she would 
use her strength against God. She is made with a mask 
upon her face of fair appearance. She is made wounded 
in the sight by palm and olive. She is made wounded in 
the ear by laurel and myrtle to signify that victory and 
truth offend her. She is made with many lightnings 
issuing forth from her to denote her evil speaking. She 
is made lean and wizened because she is ever wasting in 
perpetual desire. She is made with a fiery serpent 
gnawing at her heart. She is given a quiver with 
tongues for arrows, because with the tongue she often 
offends, and she is made with a leopard's skin, since the 
leopard from envy slays the lion by guile. She is given 
a vase in her hand full of flowers, and beneath these 
filled with scorpions and toads and other venomous 
things. She is made riding upon death, because envy 
never dying has lordship over him ; and death is made 
with a bridle in his mouth and laden with various 
weapons, since these are all the instruments of death. 

(Oxford Drawings, Part #. No. 6.) 

In the moment when virtue is born she gives birth to 
envy against herself, and a body shall sooner exist 
without a shadow than virtue without envy. 

(Oxford Drawings^ Part it. No. 6.) 

Pleasure and Pain are represented as twins, as though 
they were joined together, for there is never the one 
without the other ; and they turn their backs because 
they are contrary to each other. 

If you shall choose pleasure know that he has behind him 
one who will deal out to you tribulation and repentance. 


This is pleasure together with pain, and they are 
represented as twins because the one is never separated 
from the other. They are made with their backs turned 
to each other because they are contrary the one to the 
other. They are made growing out of the same trunk 
because they have one and the same foundation, for the 
foundation of pleasure is labour with pain, and the 
foundations of pain are vain 1 and lascivious pleasures. 
And accordingly it is represented here with a reed in the 
right hand which is useless and without strength [?] and 
the wounds made with it are poisoned. In Tuscany 
reeds are put to support beds to signify that here occur 
vain dreams, and here is consumed a great part * of 
life : here is squandered much useful time, namely that 
of the morning when the mind is composed and re- 
freshed, and the body therefore is fitted to resume new 
labours. There also are taken many vain pleasures both 
with the mind imagining impossible things, and with 
the body taking those pleasures which are often the 
cause of the failing of life ; so that for this the reed is 
held as representing such foundations. 

(Oxford Drawings^ Part it. No. 7.) 

Intellectual passion drives out sensuality. 

(C. A. 358 v. a.) 

Whoso curbs not lustful desires puts himself on a 
level with the beasts. 

You can have neither a greater nor a less dominion 
than that over yourself, 

1 MS. c vanj," not 


It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. 

(H M9[24*.]r.) 

If you kept your body in accordance with virtue 
your desires would not be of this world. 

(* 3 *) 

Nothing is so much to be feared as a bad reputation. 

This bad reputation is caused by vices. 

(// 4 or.) 

You grow in reputation like bread in the hands of 
children. (JB 3 v.) 

Methinks that coarse men of bad habits and little 
power of reason do not deserve so fine an instrument or 
so great a variety of mechanism as those endowed with 
ideas and with great reasoning power, but merely a sack 
wherein their food is received, and from whence it passes 
away. For in truth one can only reckon -them as a 
passage for food ; since it does not seem to me that they 
have anything in common with the human race except 
speech and shape, and in all else they are far below 

the level of the beasts. 

(Windsor MSS. Del? Anat. Fogti 3 21 v.) 

And this man excels in folly who continually stints 
himself in order that he may not want, and his life slips 
away while he is still looking forward to enjoying the 
wealth which by extreme toil he has acquired. ' 

($. K. M.iu. 17 v.) 

O speculators about perpetual motion, how many vain 
chimeras have you created in the like quest? Go and 
take your place with the seekers after gold. 

(8. K. M. . 92 v.) 


O misery of man ! To how many things do you 
make yourself a slave for money ? 

(Windsor MSS. R 688.) 

To the ambitious, whom neither the boon of life nor 
the beauty of the world suffice to content, it comes as 
penance that life with them is squandered, and that they 
possess neither the benefits nor the beauty of the world. 

(C. A. 91 v. a.) 

Strive to preserve your health ; and in this you will the 
better succeed in proportion as you keep clear of the 
physicians, for their drugs are a kind of alchemy con- 
cerning which there are no fewer books than there 
are medicines. (Windsor MSS. Del? An&t. Fogli A 2 r.) 

Every man desires to acquire wealth in order that he 
may give it to the doctors, the destroyers of life ; there- 
fore they ought to be rich. (F 96 v.) 

Wine is good, but water is preferable at table. 

(/ 1 [ 74 ] *.) 

Here nature seems in many or for many animals to 
have been rather a cruel step-mother than a mother, and 
for some not a step-mother but a compassionate mother. 

(S. 1C. M. HL 20 v.) 

We support life by the death of others. 

In dead matter there remains insensible life, which on 
becoming re-united to the stomachs of the living re- 
sumes the life of the senses and of the intellect. 

(#89 [41]*.) 

Man and the animals are merely a passage and channel 


for food, a tomb for other animals, a haven for the dead, 
giving life by the death of others, a coffer full of 
corruption. (C. A. 76 v. a.) 

Man has great power of speech, but the greater part 
thereof is empty and deceitful. The animals have little, 
but that little is useful and true l ; and better is a small 
and certain thing than a great falsehood. (F 96 v.) 

Lust is the cause of generation. 

Appetite is the stay of life. 

Fear or timidity is the prolongation of life. 

Deceit is the preservation of the instrument. 

(ff 3 ar.) 

Let the street be as wide as the universal height of the 
houses. ( 36 r.) 

When besieged by ambitious tyrants, I find a means 
of offence and defence in order to preserve the chief gift 
of nature, which is liberty ; and first I would speak of 
the position of the walls, and then of how the various 
peoples can maintain their good and just lords. 

(MS. 2037, Bib. Nat. 10 r.) 

Small rooms or dwellings set the mind in the right 
path, large ones cause it to go astray, 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat, 16 r.) 

If you cause your ship to stop, and place the head of 
a long tube in the water, and place the other extremity 
to your ear you will hear ships at a great distance 
from you. 

M. vero ' (the reading adopted by Dr. Richter). MS. has < verso.' 


You can also do the same by placing the head of the 
tube upon the ground, and you will then hear any one 
passing at a distance from you. (B 6 r.) 


It is necessary to have a coat made of leather with 
a double hem over the breast of the width of a finger, 
and double also from the girdle to the knee, and let the 
leather of which it is made be quite air-tight. And 
when you are obliged to jump into the sea, blow out the 
lappets of the coat through the hems of the breast, and 
then jump into the sea. And let yourself be carried by 
the waves, if there is no shore near at hand and you do 
not know the sea. And always keep in your mouth the 
end of the tube through which the air passes into the 
garment ; and if once or twice it should become necessary 
for you to take a breath when the foam prevents you, 
draw it through the mouth of the tube from the air 
within the coat. (j? 81 v.) 

Words which fail to satisfy the ear of the listener always 
either fatigue or weary him ; and you may often see a 
sign of this when such listeners are frequently yawning. 
Consequently when addressing men whose good opinion 
you desire, either cut short your speech when you see 
these evident signs of impatience, or else change the 
subject ; for if you take any other course, then in place 
of the approbation you desire you will win dislike and 

And if you would see in what a man takes pleasure 


without hearing him speak, talk to him and change the 
subject of your discourse several times, and when it 
comes about that you see him stand fixedly without 
either yawning or knitting his brows or making any 
other movement, then be sure that the subject of which 
you are speaking is the one in which he takes pleasure. 

(G 49 r.) 

But of all human discourses that must be considered 
as most foolish which affirms a belief in necromancy, 
which is the sister of alchemy, the producer of simple 
and natural things, but is so much the more worthy of 
blame than alchemy, because it never gives birth to any- 
thing whatever except to things like itself, that is to say 
lies ; and this is not the case with alchemy, which works 
by the simple products of nature, but whose function 
cannot be exercised by nature herself, because there are 
in her no organic instruments with which she might be 
able to do the work which man performs with his hands, 
by the use of which he has made glass, etc. But this 
necromancy, an ensign, or flying banner, blown by the 
wind, is the guide of the foolish multitude, which is 
a continual witness by its clamour to the limitless effects 
of such an art. And they have filled whole books in 
affirming that enchantments and spirits can work and 
speak 'without tongues, and can speak without any 
organic instrument, without which speech is impossible, 
and can carry the heaviest weights, and bring tempests 
and rain, and that men can be changed into cats and 
wolves and other beasts, although those first become 
beasts who affirm such things. 


And undoubtedly if this necromancy did exist, as is 
believed by shallow minds, there is nothing on the earth 
that would have so much power either to harm or benefit 
man : if it were true, that is, that by such an art one had 
the power to disturb the tranquil clearness of the air, and 
transform it into the hue of night, to create coruscations 
and tempests with dreadful thunder-claps and lightning- 
flashes rushing through the darkness, and with impetuous 
storms to overthrow high buildings and uproot forests, and 
with these to encounter armies and break and overthrow 
them, and more important even than this to make the 
devastating tempests, and thereby rob the husbandmen 
of the reward of their labours. For what method of 
warfare can there be which can inflict such damage upon 
the enemy as the exercise of the power to deprive him of 
his crops ? What naval combat could there be which 
should compare with that which he would wage who has 
command of the winds and can create ruinous tempests that 
would submerge every fleet whatsoever ? In truth, who- 
ever has control of such irresistible forces will be lord 
over all nations, and no human skill will be able to resist 
his destructive power. The buried treasures, the jewels 
that lie in the body of the earth will all become manifest 
to him ; no lock, no fortress, however impregnable, will 
avail to save any one against the will of such a necro- 
mancer. He will cause himself to be carried through the 
air from- East to West, and through all the uttermost 
parts of the universe. But why do I thus go on adding 
instance to instance? What is there which could not 
be brought to pass by a mechanician such as this? 
Almost nothing, except the escaping from death. 


We have therefore ascertained in part the mischief 
and the usefulness that belong to such an art if it is 
real ; and if it is real why has it not remained among 
men who desire so much, not having regard to any 
deity, merely because there are an infinite number of 
persons who in order to gratify one of their appetites 
would destroy God and the whole universe ? 

If then it has not remained among men, although so 
necessary to them, it never existed, and never can exist 3 
as follows from the definition of a spirit, which is 
invisible and incorporeal, for within the elements there 
are no incorporeal things, because where there is not body 
there is a vacuum, and the vacuum does not exist 
within the elements, because it would be instantly filled 

up by the element. 

(Windsor MSS. Del? Anat. Fogli B 31 v.) 


We have just now stated on the other side of this 
page, that the definition of a spirit is a power united to 
a body, because of itself it can neither offer resistance 
nor take any kind of local movement ; and if you say 
that it does in itself offer resistance, this cannot be so 
within the elements, because if the spirit is a quantity 
without a body, this quantity is what is called a vacuum, 
and the vacuum does not exist in nature, and granting 
that one were formed, it would be instantly filled up by 
the falling in of that element within which such a vacuum 
had been created. So by the definition of weight, which 
says that gravity is a fortuitous power created by one 
element being drawn or impelled towards another, it 


follows that any element, though without weight when 
in the same element, acquires weight in the element 
above it, which is lighter than itself; so one sees that 
one part of the water has neither gravity nor levity in 
the rest of the water, but if you draw it up into the air 
then it will acquire weight, and if you draw the air 
under the water then the water on finding itself above 
this air acquires weight, which weight it cannot support 
of itself, and consequently its descent is inevitable, and 
therefore it falls into the water, at the very spot which 
had been left a vacuum by this water. The same thing 
would happen to a spirit if it were among the elements, for 
it would continually create a vacuum in whatever element 
it chanced to find itself ; and for this reason it would be 
necessarily in perpetual flight towards the sky until it 
had passed out of these elements. 



We have proved how the spirit cannot of itself exist 
among the elements without a body, nor yet move of 
itself by voluntary movement except to rise upwards. 
We now proceed to say that such a spirit in taking 
a body of air must of necessity spread itself through 
this air ; for if it remained united, it would be separated 
from it and would fall, and so create a vacuum, as is said 
above ; and therefore it is necessary, if it is to be able to 
remain suspended in the air, that it should spread itself 
over a certain quantity of air ; and if it becomes mingled 
with the air two difficulties ensue, namely, that it rarefies 


that quantity of air within which it is mingled, and con- 
sequently this air, becoming rarefied, flies upwards of its 
own accord, and will not remain among the air that is 
heavier than itself ; and moreover, that as this aethereal 
essence is spread out, the parts of it become separated, 
and its nature becomes modified, and it thereby loses 
something of its former power. To these there is also 
added a third difficulty, and that is that this body of air 
assumed by the spirit is exposed to the penetrating force 
of the winds, which are incessantly severing and tearing 
in pieces the connected portions of the air, spinning 
them round and whirling them amid the other air ; and 
therefore the spirit which was spread through this air 
would be dismembered or rent in pieces and broken, 
together with the rending in pieces of the air within 
which it was spread. 


It is impossible that the spirit diffused within a quantity 
of air can have power to move this air ; and this is 
shown by the former section in which it is stated that 
the spirit rarefies that quantity of air within which it has 
entered. This air consequently will rise up above the 
other air, and this will be a movement made by the air 
through its own levity, and not through the voluntary 
movement of the spirit ; and if this air meets the wind, 
by the third part of this section, this air wilj be moved 
by the wind tthd not by the spirit which is diffused 



Wishing to prove whether or no the spirit can speak, 
it is necessary first to define what voice is, and how it is 
produced, and we may define it as follows : the voice is 
movement of air in friction against a compact body, or of 
the compact body in friction against the air, which is the 
same thing ; and this friction of compact with tenuous 
substance condenses the latter, and so makes it capable of 
resisting; moreover, the tenuous substance, when in 
swift motion, and a similar substance moving slowly, 
condense each other at their contact, and make a noise 
or tremendous uproar ; and the sound or murmur caused 
by one tenuous substance moving through another at a 
moderate pace [is] like a great flame which creates noises 
within the air ; and the loudest uproar made by one tenuous 
substance with another is when the one swiftly moving 
penetrates the other which is unmoveable, as for instance 
the flame of fire issuing forth from the cannon .and 
striking against the air, and also the flame issuing from 
the cloud, which strikes the air and so produces thunder- 

We may say therefore, that the spirit cannot produce 
a voice without movement of air, and there is na air 
within it, and it cannot expel air from itself if it has it not, 
and if it wishes to move that within which it is diffused, 
it becomes necessary that the spirit should multiply itself, 
and this it cannot do unless it has quantity. And by the 
fourth part it is said that no tenuous body can move 
unless it has a fixed spot from whence to take its motion, 
and especially in the case of an element moving in its 


own element, which does not move of itself, except 
by uniform evaporation at the centre of the thing 
evaporated, as happens with a sponge squeezed in the 
hand, which is held under water, since the water flows 
away from it in every direction with equal movement 
through the openings that come between the fingers of 
the hand within which it is squeezed. 

Of whether the spirit has articulate voice, and whether 
the spirit can be heard, and what hearing is, and seeing ; 
and how the wave of the voice passes through the air, 
and how the images of objects pass to the eye. 

(Wtodar MSS. Del? Anat. Fogli B 31 r. and 30 v.) 


The soul apparently resides in the seat of the judg- 
ment, and the judgment apparently resides in the place 
where all the senses meet, which is called the common 
sense ; and it is not all of it in the whole body as many 
have believed, but it is all in this part ; for if it were 
all in the whole, and all in every part, it would not have 
been necessary for the instruments of the senses to come 
together in concourse to one particular spot ; rather 
would it have sufficed for the eye to register its function 
of perception on its surface, and not to transmit the 
images of the things seen to the sense by way of the 
optic nerves; because the soul for the reason already 
given would comprehend them upon the surface of 
the eye. 

Similarly, with the sense of hearing, it would be 

> .. . 

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sufficient merely for the voice to resound in the arched 
recesses of the rock-like bone, which is within the ear, 
without there being another passage from this bone to 
the common sense, whereby the said mouth might address 
itself to the common" judgment. 

The sense of smell also is seen to be forced of neces- 
sity to have recourse to this same judgment. 

The touch passes through the perforated tendons and 
is transmitted to this sense ; these tendons proceed to 
spread out with infinite ramifications into the skin which 
encloses the body's members and the bowels. The per- 
forating tendons carry impulse and sensation to the 
subject limbs ; these tendons passing between the 
muscles and the sinews dictate to these their movement, 
and these obey, and in the act of obeying they contract, 
for the reason that the swelling reduces their length 
and draws with it the nerves^ which are interwoven amid 
the particles of the limbs, and being spread throughout 
the extremities of the fingers, they transmit to the sense 
the impression of what they touch. 

The nerves with their muscles serve the tendons, even 
as soldiers serve their leaders, and the tendons serve 
the common sense as the leaders their captain, and this 
common sense serves the soul as the captain serves his 

So therefore, the articulation of the bones obeys the 
nerve, and the nerve the muscle, and the muscle the 
tendon, and the tendon the common sense, and the 
common sense is the seat of the soul, and the memory is 
its monitor, and its faculty of receiving impressions 
serves as its standard of reference. 


How the sense waits on the soul, and not the soul on 
the sense, and how where the sense that should minister 
to the soul is lacking, the soul in such a life lacks con- 
ception of the function of this sense as is seen in the 
case of a mute or one born blind. 

(Windsor MSB. belt Anat. Togli B z r.) 

Although human subtlety makes a variety of inven- 
tions answering by different means to the same end, it 
will never devise an invention more beautiful, more 
simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her 
inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous ; 
and she needs no countervailing weights when she 
creates limbs fitted for movement in the bodies of the 
animals, but puts within them the soul of the body 
which forms them, that is the soul of the mother which 
first constructs within the womb the shape of the man, 
and in due time awakens the soul that is to be its inhabi- 
tant. For this at first remained asleep, in the guardian- 
ship of the soul of the mother, who nourishes and gives 
it life through the umbilical vein, with all its spiritual 
members, and so it will continue for such time as the 
said umbilical cord is joined to the placenta -and the 
cotylidons by which the child is attached to the mother. 
And this is the reason why any wish or intense desire pr 
fright experienced by the mother, or any other mental 
suffering, is felt more powerfully by the child than by the 
mother, for there are many cases in which the child loses 
its life from it. 

This discourse does not properly Wong here^ but is 
necessary in treating of the structure of animated bodies ; 


and the rest of the definition of the soul I'leave to the 
wisdom of the friars, those fathers of the people who by 
inspiration know all mysteries. I speak not against the 
sacred books, for they are supreme truth. 

(Windsor MBS. fitudes Anatomiquts S [Roawyre] 8 /.) 


The body of anything whatsoever that receives nourish- 
ment continually dies and is continually renewed. For 
the nourishment cannot enter except in those places 
where the preceding nourishment is exhausted, and if 
it is exhausted it no longer has life. Unless therefore 
you supply nourishment equivalent to that which has 
departed, the life fails in its vigour ; and if you deprive 
it of this nourishment, the life is completely destroyed. 
But if you supply it with just so much as is destroyed 
day by day, then it renews its life just as much as it is 
consumed ; like the light of this candle formed by the 
nourishment given to it by the fat of this candle, which 
light is also continually renewed by swiftest succour from 
beneath, in proportion as the upper part is consumed and 
dies, and in dying becomes changed from radiant light to 
murky smoke. And this death extends for so long as 
the smoke continues ; and the period of duration of the 
smoke is the same as that of what feeds it, and in an 
instant the whole light dies and is entirely regenerated 
by the movement of that which nourishes it ; and its life 
receives from it also its ebb and flow, as the flicker of its 
point serves to show us. The same process also conies 


to pass in the bodies of the animals by means of the 
beating of the heart, whereby there is produced a wave 
of blood in all the veins, and these are continually either 
enlarging or contracting, because the expansion occurs 
when they receive the excessive quantity of blood, and 
the contraction is due to the departure of the excess of 
blood they have received ; and this the beating of the 
pulse teaches us, when we touch the aforesaid veins with 
the fingers in any part whatsoever of the living body. 
But to return to our purpose, I say that the flesh of 
the animals is made anew by the blood which is continu- 
ally produced by that which nourishes them, and that 
this flesh is destroyed and returns by the mesaraic 
arteries and passes into the, intestines, where it putrifies 
in a foul and fetid death, as they show us in their 
deposits and steam like the smoke and fire which were 
given as a comparison. 

(Windsor MSS. Dell' Anat. Fogli B 28 r.) 

And this old man, a few hours before his death, told 
me that he had lived a hundred years, and that he did 
not feel any bodily ailment other than weakness, and thus 
while sitting upon a bed in the hospital of Santa Maria 
Nuova at Florence, without any movement or sign of 
anything amiss, he passed away from this life. 

And I made an autopsy in order to ascertain the cause 
of so peaceful a death, and found that it proceeded from 
weakness through failure of blood and of the artery that 
feeds the heart and the other lower members, which I 
found to be very parched and shrunk and withered ; and 
the result of this autopsy I wrote down very carefully 


Face p. 78 


and with great ease, for the body was devoid of either fat 
or moisture, and these form the chief hindrance to the 
knowledge of its parts. 

The other autopsy was on a child of two years, and 
here I found everything the contrary to what it was in 
the case of the old man. 

The old who enjoy good health die through lack of 
sustenance. And this is brought about by the passage to 
the mesaraic veins becoming continually restricted by 
the thickening of the skin of these veins ; and the pro- 
cess continues until it affects the capillary veins, which 
are the first to close up altogether ; and from this it 
comes to pass that the old dread the cold more than 
the young, and that those who are very old have their 
skin the colour of wood or of dried chestnut, because 
this skin is almost completely deprived of sustenance. 

And this network of veins acts in man as in oranges, 
in which the peel becomes thicker and the pulp diminishes 
the more they become old. And if you say that as the 
blood becomes thicker it ceases to flow through the 
veins, this is not true, for the blood in the veins does- 
not thicken because it continually dies and is renewed. 

(H'wdior MSS. De/f Anai. Fcgit B 10 r.) 


The origin of the sea is the contrary to that of the 
blood, for 4 the sea receives within itself all the rivers, 
which are entirely caused by the aqueous ,vapours that 
have ascended up into the air ; while the sea of the blood 
'is the source of all the veins. 



The vein is one whole, which is divided into as many 
main branches as there are principal places which it has to 
nourish, and these branches are subdivided in an infinite 
number. (Windsor MBS. Del? Anat. Fogli A 4 r.) 


No member needs so great a number of muscles as 
the tongue, twenty-four of these being already known 
apart from the others which I have discovered ; and of 
all the members which are moved by voluntary action 
this exceeds all the rest in the number of its movements. 

And if you shall say that this is rather the function of 
the eye, which receives all the infinite varieties of form 
and colour of the objects set before it, and of the smell 
with its infinite mixture of odours, and of the ear with 
its sounds, we may reply that the tongue also perceives 
an infinite number of flavours both simple and com- 
pounded ; but this is not to our purpose, for our intention 
is to treat only of the particular movement of each 

Consider carefully how by the movement of the tongue, 
with the help of the lips and teeth, the pronunciation of 
all the names of things is known to us ; and how, by 
means of this instrument, the simple and compound 
words of a language arrive at our ears ; and how these, 
if there were a name for all the effects of nature, would 
approach infinity in number, together with all the count- 
less things which are in action and in the power of 
nature ; and these would not be expressed in one language 


only, but in a great number of languages, and these also 
would tend to infinite variety, because they vary con- 
tinually from century to century, and in one country and 
another, through the intermingling of the peoples, who 
by wars or other mischances are continually becoming 
mixed with each other ; and these same languages are 
liable to pass into oblivion, and they are mortal like all 
the rest of created things ; and if we grant that our world 
is everlasting we shall then say that these languages have 
been, and still must be, of infinite variety, through the in- 
finite number of centuries which constitute infinite time. 
Nor is this true in the case of any other sense ; for 
these are concerned only with such things as nature is 
continually producing, and she does not change the 
ordinary kinds of the things which she creates in the 
same way that from time to time the things are changed 
which have been created by man ; and indeed man is 
nature's chiefest instrument, because nature is concerned 
only with the production of elementary things, but mati 
from these elementary things produces an infinite number 
of compounds, although he has no power to create any 
natural thing except another like himself, that is his 
children. And of this the old alchemists will serve as 
my witnesses, who have never either by chance or de- 
liberate experiment succeeded in creating the smallest 
thing which can be created by nature ; and indeed this 
generation deserves unmeasured praises for the service- 
ableness of the things which they have invented for the 
use of men, and would deserve them even more if they 
had not been the inventors of noxious things like poisons 
and other similar things which destroy the life or the 


intellect ; but they are not exempt from blame in that by 
much study and experiment they are seeking to create, 
not, indeed, the meanest of nature's products, but the 
most excellent, namely gold, which is begotten of the sun 
inasmuch as it has more resemblance to it than to any- 
thing else that is, and no created thing is more enduring 
than this gold. It is immune from destruction by fire, 
which has power over all the rest of created things, 
reducing them to ashes, glass, or smoke. If, however, 
insensate avarice should drive you into such error, why 
do you not go to the mines where nature produces this 
gold, and there become her disciple ? She will completely 
cure you of your folly by showing you that nothing 
which you employ in your furnace will be numbered 
among the things which she employs in order to produce 
this gold. For there is there no quicksilver, no sulphur 
of any kind, no fire nor other heat than that of nature 
giving life to our world ; and she will show you the 
veins of the gold spreading through the stone, the 
blue lapis lazuli, whose colour is unaffected by the power 
of the fire. And consider carefully this ramification of 
the gold, and you will see that the extremities of it are 
continually expanding in slow movement, transmuting 
into gold whatever they come in contact with ; and note 
that therein is a living organism which it is not within 
your power to produce. 

(Windsor MSS. Dell 9 Anat. Fogli B 28 tt) 

And thou, man, who by these my labours dost look 
upon the marvellous works of nature, if thou judgest it 
to be an atrocious act to destroy the same, reflect that 


it is an infinitely atrocious act to take away the life of 
man. For thou shouldst be mindful that though what 
is thus compounded seem io thee of marvellous subtlety, 
it is as nothing compared with the soul that dwells within 
this structure ; and in truth, whatever this may be, 
it is a divine thing which suffers it thus to dwell within 
its handiwork at its good pleasure, and wills not that 
thy rage or malice should destroy such a life, since in 
truth he who values it not does not deserve it. 

For we part from the body with extreme reluctance, 
and I indeed believe- that its grief and lamentation are 
not without cause. 

(Windsor MSS. Del? Anat. Fegli A 2 r.) 

I wish to work miracles ; I may have less than other 
men who are more tranquil, or than those who aim at 
growing rich in a day. I may live for a long time in dire 
poverty as happens, and to all eternity will happen, to 
the alchemists, the would-be creators of gold and silver, 
and to the mechanicians who attempt to make dead 
water stir itself into life in perpetual motion, and to 
those consummate fools, the necromancer and the 

And you who say that it is better to look at an 
anatomical demonstration than to see these drawings, 
you would be right, if it were possible to observe all the 
details shown in these drawings in a single figure, in 
which, with all your ability, you will not see nor acquire 
a knowledge of more than some few veins, while, in 
order to obtain an exact and complete knowledge of 
these, I have dissected more than ten human bodies, 


destroying all the various members, and removing even 
the very smallest particles of the flesh which surrounded 
these veins without causing any effusion of blood other 
than the imperceptible bleeding of the capillary veins. 
And, as one single body did not suffice for. so long a 
time, it was necessary to proceed by stages with so many 
bodies as would render my knowledge complete ; and 
this I repeated twice over in order to discover the 

But though possessed of an interest in the subject you 
may perhaps be deterred by natural repugnance, or, if 
this does not restrain you, then perhaps by the fear of 
passing the night-hours in the company of these corpses, 
quartered and flayed and horrible to behold ; and, if this 
does not deter you, then perhaps you may lack the 
skill in drawing essential for such representation ; and 
even if you possess this skill it may not be combined 
with a knowledge of perspective, while, if it is so 
combined, you may not be versed in the methods of 
geometrical demonstration or the method of estimating 
the forces and strength of muscles, or perhaps you may 
be found wanting in patience so that you will not be 
diligent. Concerning which things, whether or no they 
have all been found in me, the hundred and twenty books 
which I have composed will give their verdict * yes ' or 
' no > ; in these I have not been hindered either by avarice 
or negligence but only by want of time. Farewell. 

(fpinasor M$$. ttudes Anatomises Recueil f B (Rouveyri) 7 v.) 



Face p. 84 



IF you look at the stars without their rays, as may be 
done by looking at them through a small hole made with 
the extreme point of a fine needle and placed so as 
almost to touch the eye, you will perceive these stars 
to be so small that nothing appears less ; and in truth 
the great distance gives them a natural diminution, 
although there are many there which are a great many 
times larger than the star which is our earth together 
with the water. Think, then, what this star of ours 
would seem like at so great a distance, and then consider 
how many stars might be set longitudinally and lati- 
tudinally amid these stars which are scattered throughout 
this dark expanse. I can never do other than blame 
those many ancients who said that the sun was no larger 
than it appears, among these being Epicurus ; and I 
believe that such a theory is borrowed from the idea of 
a light set in our atmosphere equidistant from the centre 
[of the earth] ; whoever sees it never sees it lessened in 
size at any distance, and the reasons of its size and 
potency I shall reserve for the Fourth Book. 

But I marvel greatly that Socrates should have spoken 


with disparagement of that body, and that he should 
have said that it resembled a burning stone, and it is 
certain that whoever opposes him in such an error can 
scarcely do wrong. I could wish that I had such power 
of language as should avail me to censure those who 
would fain extol the worship of men above that of the 
sun, for I do not perceive in the whole universe a body 
greater and more powerful than this, and its light 
illumines all the celestial bodies which are distributed 
throughout the universe. 

All vital principle descends from it, since the heat 
there is in living creatures proceeds from this vital 
principle, and there is no other heat or light in the 
universe, as I shall show in the Fourth Book, and, indeed, 
those who have wished to worship men as gods, such as 
Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the like, have made a very 
grave error seeing that even if a man were as large as our 
earth he would seem like one of the least of the stars, 
which appears but a speck in the universe ; and seeing 
also that these men are mortal and subject to decay and 
corruption in their tombs. 

The Spera, and Marullo, and many others praise the 
Sun. (F 5 r. and 4 v.) 

All the flowers which see the sun mature their seed, 
and not the others, that is those which see only the 
reflection of the sun, (G 37 r.) 

That the atmosphere attracts to itself like a magnet 
all the images of the things which surround it> and not 
only their bodily shapes but also their nature, is clearly 


to be seen in the case of the sun, which is a hot and 
luminous body. All the atmosphere which is exposed 
to its influence is charged in all its parts with light and 
heat, and it all receives within itself the shape of that 
which is the source of this heat and radiance and does 
the same also in each minutest part. The north star is 
shown to do the same by the needle of the compass ; 
and each of the planets does the like without itself 
undergoing any diminution. Among the products of 
the earth the same is found to happen with musk and 
other scents. (C. A, 138 v. t>.) 


Certain mathematicians contend that the sun grows 
larger when it is setting, because the eye sees it continually 
through atmosphere of greater density, alleging that 
objects seen through mist and in water seem larger. 
To those I reply that this is not the case, for the things 
seen through the mist are similar in colour to those 
which are at a distance, but as they do not undergo 
the same process of diminution, they appear greater 
in size. 

In the same way nothing seems larger in smooth 
water, and this you may prove by tracing upon a board 
which is placed under water. 

The real reason why the sun grows larger is that 
every luminous body appears larger, as it is further away. 



The moon is not luminous in itself, but it is well 
fitted to take the characteristics of light after the manner 
of the mirror or of water or any other shining body ; and 
it grows larger in the East and in the West like the sun 
and the other planets, and the reason of this is that every 
luminous body grows larger as it becomes more remote. 

It may be readily understood that every planet and star 
is further away from us when in the West than when it is 
overhead, by about three thousand five hundred [miles] 
according to the proof given at the side [of the page] ; i 
and if you see the sun or moon reflected in water which is 
near at hand it will seem to be the same size in the water 
as it does in the sky, while if you go away to the distance 
of a mile it will seem a hundred times as large. And if 
you see it reflected in the sea at the moment of its setting 
the image of the sun will seem to you to be more than 
ten miles long, because it will cover in this reflection 
more than ten miles of sea. And if you were where the 
moon is, it would appear to you that the sun was reflected 
over as much of the sea as it illumines in its daily course, 
and the land would appear amid this v/ater like the dark 
spots that are upon the moon, which when looked at from 
the earth presents to mankind the same appearance that 
our earth would present to men dwelling in the moon. 


When all that we can see of the moon is illuminated 
it gives us its maximum of light, and then from the 

1 Here the margin of the MS. contains a diagram representing the earth 
with the sun shown in two positions. 


reflection of the rays of "the sun which strike upon it and 
rebound towards us its ocean throws off less moisture to 
us, and the less light it gives the more it is harmful. 



Some have said that vapours are given off from the 
moon after the manner of clouds, and are interposed 
between the moon and our eyes. If this were the case 
these spots would never be fixed either as to position or 
shape ; and when the moon was seen from different points, 
even although these spots did not alter their position 
they would change their shape, as does a thing which is 
seen on different sides. (F 84 r.) 


Others have said that the moon is made up of parts, 
some more, some less transparent, as though one part were 
after the manner of alabaster, and another like crystal or 
glass. It would then follow that when the rays of the 
sun struck the less transparent part the light would stay 
on the surface, and consequently the denser part would 
be illuminated, and the transparent part would reveal 
the shadows of its obscure depths. Thus then they 
define the nature of the mfton, and this view has found 
favour with many philosophers, and especially with 
Aristotle ; but nevertheless it is false, since in the 
different phases which the moon and the sun frequently 
piresent to our eyes we should be seeing these spots vary, 
and at one time they would appear dark and at another 
light. They would be dark when the sun is in the West 


and the moon in the centre of the sky, because the 
transparent hollows would then be in shadow as far as the 
tops of their edges, since the sun could not cast its rays 
into the mouths of these same hollows ; and they would 
appear bright at full moon, when the moon in the East 
faces the sun in the West ; for then the sun would 
illumine even the lowest depths of these transparent 
parts, and, in consequence, as no shadow was created, the 
moon would not at such times reveal to us the above- 
mentioned spots, and so it would be, sometimes more 
sometimes less, according to the change in the position 
of the sun to the moon, and of the moon to our eyes, as 
I have said above. (F 84 v.) 

It has also been said that the spots on the moon are 
created in the moon itself, by the fact of it being of 
varying thinness or density. If this were so, then in the 
eclipses of the moon the solar rays could pierce through 
some part where it is thin, as has been stated, but since 
we do not see this result the aforesaid theory is false. 

* Others say that the surface of the moon is smooth 
and polished, and that, like a mirror, it receives within 
itself the reflection of the earth. This theory is false, 
since the earth, when not covered by the water, presents 
different shapes from different points of view ; so when 
the moon is in the East it would reflect other spots than 
when it is overhead or in the West, whereas the spots 
upon the moon, as seen at full moon, never change during 
the course which it makes in our hemisphere. A second 
reason is that an object reflected in a convex surface fills 
only a small part of the mirror, as is proved in perspec- 


tive. The third reason Is that when the moon is full it 
only faces half the orb of the illuminated earth, in which 
the ocean and the other waters shine brightly, while the 
land forms spots amid this brightness; and consequently 
the half of our earth would be seen girded round about 
by the radiance of the sea, which takes its light from the 
sun, and in the moon this reflection would be the least 
part of that moon. The fourth reason is that one 
radiant body cannot be reflected in another, and con- 
sequently as the sea derives its radiance from the sun, 
as does also the moon, it could not show the reflected 
image of the earth, unless one also saw reflected there 
separately the orb of the sun and of each of the stars 
which look down upon it. (F 85 r.) 


You will see the proof of this by taking a ball of 
burnished gold and placing it in the darkness and setting 
a light at some distance from it. Although this illumi- 
nates about half the ball, the eye only sees it reflected on 
a small part of its surface, and all the rest of the surface 
reflects the darkness which surrounds it. For this reason 
it is only there that the image of the light is apparent, 
and all the rest remains invisible because the eye is at a 
distance from the ball. The same thing would happen 
with the surface of the moon if it were polished, glittering 
and solid, as are bodies which have a reflecting surface. 

Show how if you were upon the moon or upon a star 


our earth would appear to you to perform the same 
function for the sun as now the moon does. And show 
how the reflection of the sun in the sea cannot itself 
appear a sun as it does in a flat mirror. (F 93 r.) 


I find that those circles which at night seem to 
surround the moon, varying in circumference and in their 
degree of redness, are caused by the different degrees of 
thickness of the vapours which are situated at different 
altitudes between the moon and our eyes. And the 
circle that is larger and less red is in the first part lower 
than the said vapours ; the second, being less, is higher 
and appears redder, because it is seen through two sets 
of vapours ; and so the higher they are the smaller and 
the redder will they appear, for between the eye and 
them there will be more layers of vapours, and this goes 
to prove that where there appears greater redness, there 
there is a greater quantity of vapours. 

(C. A. 349 * *) 

Why the thunder lasts for a longer time than that 
which causes it ; and why, immediately on its creation, 
the lightning becomes visible to the eye, while the 
thunder requires time to travel, after the manner of a 
wave, and makes the loudest noise when it meets with 
most resistance. (K no [30] v.) 


Define first of all what is height and depth, also how 
the elements are situated one within the other. Then 


what is solid weight and liquid weight ; but first of all 
what weight and lightness consist of in themselves. 
Then describe why water moves, and why its motion 
ceases ; then why it becomes slower or more rapid, and 
in addition to this how it continually descends when in 
contact with air that is lower than itself; and how the 
water rises in the air through the heat of the sun and 
then falls back in rain. Further why the water springs 
from the summits of the mountains, and whether any 
spring of water higher than the ocean can pour forth 
water higher than the surface of this ocean ; and how all 
the water that returns to the ocean is higher than the 
sphere of the water : and how the water of the equi- 
noctial seas is higher than the northern waters, and is 
higher beneath the body of the sun than in any other 
part of the circle of the equator ; for when the experi- 
ment is made under the heat of a burning brand, the 
water boils as the effect of the brand, and the water 
around the centre of where it boils descends in a circular 
wave. And how the waters of the north are lower than 
the other seas, and more so as they become colder, until 
they are changed into ice. (B 12 r.) 


Man has been called by the ancients a lesser world, 
and indeed the term is rightly applied, seeing that if 
man is compounded of earth, water, air and fire, this 
body of the earth is the same ; and as man has within 
himself bones as a stay and framework for the flesh, so 
the world has the rocks which are the supports of the 


earth ; as man has within him a pool of blood wherein 
the lungs as he breathes expand and contract, so the 
body of the earth has its ocean, which also rises and falls 
every six hours with the breathing of the world ; as 
from the said pool of blood proceed the veins which 
spread out their branches throughout the human body, 
in just the same manner the ocean fills the body of the 
earth with an infinite number of veins of water. In this 
body of the earth there is lacking, however; the sinews, 
and these are absent because sinews are created for the 
purpose of movement, and as the world is perpetually 
stable within itself no movement ever takes place there, 
and in the absence of any movement the sinews are 
not necessary; but in all other things man and the 
world show a great resemblance. (^55 *') 


Where there is life there is heat, and where there is 
vital heat there is movement of vapour. This is proved 
because one sees that the heat of the element of fire 
always draws to itself the damp vapours, the thick mists 
and dense clouds which are given off by the seas and 
other lakes and rivers and m irshy valleys. And drawing 
these little by little up to th' cold region, there thc j first 
part halts, because the warm and moist cannot exist with 
cold and dryness ; and this first part having halted receives 
the other parts, and so all the parts joining together one 
to another form thick and dark clouds. And these are 
often swept away and carried by the winds from one 
region to another, until at last their density gives them 


such weight that they fall in thick rain ; but if the heat 
of the sun is added to the power of the element of fire, 
the clouds are drawn up higher, and come to more intense 
cold, and there become frozen, and so produce hailstorms, 
So the same heat which holds up so great a weight of 
water as is seen to fall in rain from the clouds, sucks it 
up from below from the roots of the mountains and 
draws it up and confines it among the mountain summits, 
and there the water finds crevices, and so continuing it 
issues forth and creates rivers. (A 55 *.) 


I perceive that the surface of the earth was from of 
old entirely filled up and covered over in its level plains 
by the salt waters, and that the mountains, the bones of 
the earth, with their wide bases, penetrated and towered 
up amid the air, covered over and clad with much high- 
lying soil. Subsequently, the incessant rains have caused 
the rivers to increase, and by repeated washing, have 
stripped bare part of the lofty summits of these moun- 
tains, leaving the site of the earth, so that the rock finds 
itself exposed to the air, and the earth has departed from 
these places. And the earth from off the slopes and the 
lofty summits of the mountains has already descended 
to their bases, and has raised the floors of the seas which 
encircle these bases, and caused the plain to be uncovered, 
and in some parts has driven away the seas from there 
over \ great distance. (C. A. 126 t\ 6.) 



Water which falls from a height into other water im- 
prisons within itself a certain quanuty of air, and this 
through the force of the blow becomes submerged with 
it, and then with swift movement rises up again and 
arrives at the surface which it has quitted, clothed with a 
fine veil of moisture, spherical in form, and proceeds by 
circles away from the spot where it first struck. Or the 
water which falls down upon other water runs away from 
the spot where it strikes, in various different branches, 
bifurcating and mingling and interlacing one with 
another ; and some, being hollow, are dashed back upon 
the surface of the water ; and so great is the force of 
the weight, and of the shock caused by this water, that 
through its extreme swiftness the air is unable to escape 
into its own element, but on the contrary is submerged 
in the manner that I have stated above. (A 59 r.) 


Water will not move from one spot to another unless 
to seek a lower level, and in the natural course of its 
current it will never be able to return to an elevation 
equal to that of the spot where it first issued forth from 
the mountains and came into the light. That part of 
the sea which by an error of imagination you state to 
have been so high as to have flowed over the summits of 


the high mountains for so many centuries, would be con- 
sumed and poured out in the water that has issued from 
these same mountains. You can well imagine that 
during all the time that the Tigris and the Euphrates 
have flowed from the summits of the Armenian moun- 
tains, 1 one may suppose the whole of the water of the 
ocean to have passed a great many times through their 
mouths. Or do you not believe that the Nile has dis- 
charged more water into the sea than is at present con- 
tained in all the watery elerrent? Surely this is the 
case ! If then this water had fallen away from this body 
of the earth, the whole mechanism would long since have 
been without water. So, therefore, one may conclude 
that the water passes from the rivers to the sea, and from 
the sea to the rivers, ever making the self-same round, 
and that all the sea and the rivers have passed through 
the mouth of the Nile an infinite number of times. 

(A 56 r. and zr.) 

All the movements of the wind resemble those of the 

Universally all things desire to maintain themselves in 
their natural state. So moving water strives to main- 
tain the course pursuant to the power which occasions it, 
and if it finds an obstacle in its path, it completes the 
span of the course it has o&mmenced by a circular and 
revolving movement. 

So when water pours out of a narrow channel and 
descends with fury into the slow-moving currents of 

1 Text is not * de monti eruini * as in M, Ravaisson-Mollien's transcript, 
but ' dc mOti ermjnj * (de monti ermini) as given by Dr. Richter. 



mighty seas, since in the greater bulk there is greater 
power, and greater power offers resistance to the lesser, 
in this case, the water descending upon the sea beats down 
upon its slow-moving mass, and this cannot make a pkce 
for it with sufficient speed, because it is held up by the 
rest of the water ; and so the water that descends, not 
being willing to slacken its course, turns round after it 
has struck, and continues its first movement in circling 
eddies, and so fulfils its desire down in the depth ; for in 
these same eddies it finds nothing more than its own 
movement, which is attended by a succession of circles, 
one within the other ; and by thus revolving in circles, 
its course becomes longer and more continuous, because 
it meets with no obstacle except itself; and this motion 
eats away and consumes the banks, and they fall head- 
long in ruin. ... (^60 r.) 


The wave is the recoil of the stroke, and it will be 
greater or less in proportion as the stroke itself is greater 
or less. A wave is never found alone, but is mingled 
with as many other waves as there are uneven places in the 
object where the said wave is produced. At one and the 
same time there will be moving over the greatest wave 
of a sea innumerable other waves proceeding in different 
directions. If you throw a stone into a sea with various 
shores, all the waves which strike against these shores 
are thrown back towards where the stone has struck, and 
on meeting others advancing, they never interrupt each 
other's course. Waves of equal volume, velocity, and 
power, when they encounter each other in opposing 


motion, recoil at equal angles, the one from the stroke 
of the other. That wave will be of greater elevation 
which is created by the greater stroke, and the same is 
true of the converse. The wave produced in small tracts 
of water will go and return many times from the spot 
which has been struck. The wave goes and returns so 
many more tinies in proportion as the sea which produces 
it contains a less quantity of water, and so conversely. 
Only on the high sea do the waves advance without ever 
turning in recoil. In lesser tracts of water the same stroke 
gives birth to many motions of advance and recoil. 
The greatest wave is covered with innumerable other 
waves moving in different directions ; and these have a 
greater or less depth as they are occasioned by a greater 
or less power. The greatest wave is covered with various 
waves, which move in as many different directions as 
there were different places from which they separated 
themselves. The same wave produced within a small tract 
of water has a greater number of other waves proceeding 
over itself, in proportion to the greater strength of its 
stroke and recoil from the opposite shores. Greater is 
the motion of the wave than that of the water of which it 
is composed. Many waves turned in different directions 
can be created between the surface and the bottom of the 
same body of water at the same time. The eddying move- 
ments can accompany the direct movements of each wave. 
All the impressions caused by things striking upon 
the water can penetrate one another without being 
destroyed. One wave never penetrates another; but 
they only recoil from the spot where they strike. 

(C. A. 84 v. ,) 



Take a vase, fill it full of pure earth, and set it up on 
a roof. You will see how immediately the green herbs 
will begin to shoot up, and how these, when fully grown, 
will cast their various seeds ; and after the children have 
thus fallen at the feet of their parents, you will see the 
herbs, having cast their seeds, becoming withered and 
falling back again to the earth, and within a short time 
becoming changed into the earth's substance and giving 
it increase ; after this you will see the seeds springing up 
and passing through the same course, and so you will 
always see the successive generations after completing 
their natural course, by their death and corruption giving 
increase to the earth. And if you let ten years elapse 
and then measure the increase in the soil, you will be 
able to discover how much the earth in general has in- 
creased, and then by multiplying you will see how great 
has been the increase of the earth in the world during a 
thousand years. Some may say that this instance of the 
vase which I have mentioned does not justify the deduc- 
tion based upon it, because one sees in the case of these 
vases, that for the prize of the flowers that are looked 
for, a part of the soil is frequently taken away, and its 
place is filled up with new rich soil ; and I reply to them 
that as the soil which is added there is a blend of rich fat 
substances and broken bits of all sorts of things, it cannot 
be said to be pure earth, and this mass of substances, 
decaying, and so losing in part their shape, becomes 
changed into a rich ooze, which feeds the roots of the 


plants above them ; and this is the reason why it may 
appear to you that the earth is lessened ; but if you 
allow the plants that grow in it to die, and their seeds to 
spring up, then in time you will behold its increase. 

For do you not perceive how, among the high moun- 
tains, the walls of ancient and ruined cities are being 
covered over and concealed by the earth's increase ? 

Nay, have you not seen how, on the rocky summits 
of the mountains, the live stone itself has in course of 
time swallowed up by its growth some column which it 
supported, and stripping it bare as with shears, and 
grasping it tightly, has left the impress of its fluted form 
in the living rock ? (C. A. 265 r. A) 

The water wears away the mountains and fills up the 
valleys, and if it had the power, it would reduce the 
earth to a perfect sphere. (C, A. 185 v. <r.) 

If a drop of water falls into the sea when it is calm, 
it must of necessity be that the whole surface of the sea 
is raised imperceptibly, seeing that water cannot be com- 
pressed within itself, like air. (C. A. 20 r. //.) 


Pliny says in his second book, in the hundred and 
third chapter, that the water of the sea is salt because 
the heat of the sun scorches and dries up the moisture 
and sucks it up and thereby greatly increases the salt 
savour of the sea. 

But this cannot be admitted because, if the saltness 


of the sea were caused by the heat of the sun, there is no 
doubt that the lakes and pools and marshes would be more 
salt in proportion as their waters have less movement and 
depth, but on the contrary experience shows us that the 
waters of these marshes are entirely free from saltness. 
It is also stated by Pliny, in the same chapter, that this 
saltness might arise because, after the subtraction of 
every sweet and tenuous portion such as the heat readily 
draws to itself, the more bitter and coarser portion will 
be left behind, and in consequence the water on the 
surface is sweeter than that at the bottom. But this is 
contradicted by the reasons given above, whence it follows 
that the same thing would happen with marshes and 
other tracts of water which become dried up by the heat. 
It has also been said that the saltness of the sea is the 
sweat of the earth, but to this we may reply that then 
all the springs of water which penetrate through the 
earth would be salt. The conclusion, therefore, is that 
the saltness of the sea is due to the numerous springs of 
water, which, -in penetrating the earth, find the salt 
mines, and dissolving parts of these carr^ them away with 
.them to the ocean and to the other seas, from whence 
they are never lifted* by the clouds which produce the 
rivers. So the sea would be more salt in our times than 
it has ever been at any time previously ; and if it were 
argued by the adversary that in an infinite course of 
time the sea would either become dried up or congealed 
into salt, to this I reply that the salt is restored to the 
earth by the setting free of the earth which is raised up 
together with the salt it has acquired, and the riwrs restore 
it to the earth over which they flow- (G -48 ?.} 


If a stone is thrown into still water it will form circles 
equidistant from their centre ; but if into a moving river 
the circles formed will lengthen out and be almost oval 
in shape, and will travel on together with their centre 
away from the spot where it was first made, following 
the course of the [stream] ... (787 [39] r.) 

Water will leap up far higher than it has fallen, through 
the violent movement caused by the air which finds itself 
shut in within the bubbles of the water, and which after- 
wards rises and floats like bells upon the surface of the 
water. Returning to the place where it strikes, the 
water is again submerged by the blow, so that the air 
finds itself hemmed in between the water which drives 
it down and that which encounters it, and being pressed 
upon with such fury and violence, suddenly bursts through 
the water which serves it as a covering, and, like a 
thunderbolt emerging from the clouds, so this air emerges 
from the water, carrying with it a part of the water 1 
which previously formed its covering. (/ 69 [21] #.) 


This is proved by the , fact that where the river flows 
swiftly it washes away the soil, and where it delays there 
it leaves its deposit, and both for this reason, and because 
water never travels so slowly in rivers as it does in the 
marshes of the valleys, the movement of the waters there 
is imperceptible. But in these marshes the river has to 
enter through a low, narrow, winding channel, and it hsfc 

1 MS. has 'aria,* air. 


to flow out over a large area of but little depth ; and 
this is necessary because the water flowing in the river 
is thicker and more laden with earth in the lower than 
in the upper part ; and the sluggish water of the marshes 
also is the same, but the variation between the lightness 
and heaviness of the upper and lower waters of the 
marshes far exceeds that in the currents of rivers, in 
which the lightness of the upper part differs but little 
from the heaviness of the part below. 

So the conclusion is that the marsh will be destroyed 
because it is receiving turbid water below, while above, 
on the opposite side of the same marsh, only clear water 
is flowing out ; and, consequently, the bed of the marsh 
will of necessity be raised by means of the soil which is 
being continually discharged into it. ( 5 r.) 


The shells of oysters and other similar creatures which 
are born in the mud of the sea, testify to us of the 
change in the earth round the centre of our elements. 
This is proved as follows : the mighty rivers always 
flow turbid because of the earth stirred up in them 
through the friction of their waters upon their bed and 
against the banks ; and this process of destruction 
uncovers the tops of the ridges formed by the layers of 
these shells, which are embedded in the mud of the sea 
where they were born when the salt waters covered 
them* And these same ridges were from time to time 
covered over by varying thicknesses of mud which had 


been brought down to the sea by the rivers In floods of 
varying magnitude ; and in this way these shells remained 
walled up and dead beneath this mud, which became 
raised to such a height that the bed of the sea emerged 
into the air. And now these beds are of so great a 
height that they have become hills or lofty mountains, 
and the rivers, which wear away the sides of these 
mountains, lay bare the strata of the shells, and so the 
light surface of the earth is continually raised, and 
the antipodes draw nearer to the centre of the earth, 
and the ancient beds of the sea become chains of 
mountains. ( 4 ^.) 


Here a doubt arises, and that is as to whether the 
Flood which came in the time of Noah was universal 
or not, and this would seem not to have been the case for 
the reasons which will now be given. We have it in the 
Bible that the said Flood was caused by forty days and 
forty nights of continuous and universal rain, and that 
this rain rose ten cubits above the highest mountain in 
the world. But, consequently, if it had been the case 
that the rain was universal, it would have formed in 
itself a covering around our globe which is spherical 
in shape ; and a sphere has every part of its circum- 
ference equally distant from its centre, and therefore, on 
the sphere of water finding itself in the aforesaid con- 
dition, it becomes impossible for the water on its surface 
to move, since water does not move of its own accord 
unless to descend. How then did the waters of so great 
a Flood depart if it is proved that they had no power 


of motion? If it departed, how did it move, unless it 
went upwards ? At this point natural causes fail us, and 
therefore in order to resolve such a doubt we must needs 
either call in a miracle to our aid or else sajr that all this 
water was evaporated by the heat of the sun. 


If you should say that the shells which are visible at the 
present time within the borders of Italy, far away from 
the sea and at great heights, are due to the Flood having 
deposited them there, I reply that, granting this Flood to 
have risen seven cubits above the highest mountain, as 
he has written who measured it, these shells which always 
inhabit near the shores of the sea ought to be found 
lying on the mountain sides, and not at so short a 
distance above their bases, and all at the same level, 
layer upon layer. 

Should you say that the nature of these shells is to 
keep near the edge of the sea, and that as the sea rose 
in height the shells left their former place and followed 
the rising waters up to their highest level : to this 
I reply that the cockle is a creature incapable of more 
rapid movement than the &fail out of water, or is even 
somewhat slower, since it does not swim, but makes 
a furrow in the sand, and supporting itself by means of 
the sides of this furrow it will travel between three and 
four braccia in a day ; and therefore with such a motion 
as this it could not have travelled from the Adriatic sea 
as far as Monferrato in' Lombardy, a distance of two 


hundred and fifty miles in forty days, as he has said 
who kept a record of that time* 

And if you say that the waves carried them there 
they could not move by reason of their weight except 
upon their base. And if you do not grant me this, at 
any rate allow that they must have remained on the tops 
of the highest mountains, and in the lakes which are shut 
in among the mountains, such as the lake of Lario or 
Como, and Lake Maggiore, and that of Fiesole and of 
Perugia and others. 

If you should say that the shells were empty and dead 
when carried by the waves, I reply that where the dead 
ones went the living were not far distant, and in these 
mountains are found all living ones, for they are known 
by the shells being in pairs and by their being in a row 
without any dead, and a little higher up is the place 
where all the dead with their shells separated have been 
cast up by the waves, near where the rivers plunged in 
mighty chasm into the sea. So it was with the Arno, 
which fell from the Gonfolina near to Monte Lupo and 
there left gravel deposits, which deposits are still to be 
seen welded together and forming one concrete mass of 
various kinds of stones from different localities and of 
varying colour and hardness. And a little further on, 
where the river turns towards Castel Florentine, the 
hardening of the sand has formed tufa stone ; and below 
this it has deposited the mud in which the shells lived ; 
and the mud has risen by degrees as the floods of the 
Arno poured their turbid waters into this sea. So from 
time to time the floor of the sea was raised, and this 
caused these shells to be in layers. 


This is seen in the cutting of Colle Gonzoli, which has 
been made precipitous by the action of the Arno wearing 
away its base, in which cutting the aforesaid layers of 
shells are plainly to be seen in the bluish clay, and there 
are also to be found other things from the sea. 

(Leie. 8 b [R 987]) 

As for those who say that the shells are found over 
a wide area and produced at a distance from the sea by 
the nature of the locality and the disposition of the 
heavens which moves and influences the place to such a 
creation of animal life, to them it may be answered 
that, granted such an influence over these animals, they 
could not happen all in one line, save in the case of those 
of the same species and age ; and not one old and another 
young, one with an outer covering and another without, 
one broken and another whole, nor one filled with sea 
sand, and the fragments great and small of others inside 
the whole shells which stand gaping open ; nor the claws 
of crabs without the rest of their bodies ; nor with the 
shells of other species fastened on to them, like animals 
crawling over them and leaving the mark of their track 
on the outside where it has eaten its way like a worm in 
wood ; nor would there be found among them bones 
and teeth of fish which some call arrows, others serpents' 
tongues ; nor would so many parts of different animals 
be found joined together, unless they had been thrown 
up there upon the borders of the sea. 

And the Flood could not have carried them there, 
because things which are heavier than water do not float 
high in the water, and the aforesaid things could not be 


at such heights unless they had been carried there 
floating on the waves, and that is impossible on account 
of their weight. 

Where the valleys have never been covered by the 
alt waters of the sea, there the shells are never found. 

(Leic. 9 a [R 988]) 

Since things are far more ancient than letters, it is 
not to be wondered at if in our days there exists no 
record of how the aforesaid seas extended over so many 
countries ; and if moreover such record ever existed, the 
wars, the conflagrations, the deluges of the waters, the 
changes in speech and habits have destroyed every 
vestige of the past. But sufficient for us is the testimony 
of things produced in the salt waters and now found 
again in the high mountains far from the seas. 

(Leic. 3 1 a [R 984]) 


All the creatures that have their bones within their 
skin, on being covered over by the mud from the in- 
undations of rivers which have left their accustomed beds, 
are at once enclosed in a mould by this mud. And so 
in course of time as the channels of the rivers become 
lower, these creatures being embedded and shut in within 
the mud, and the flesh and organs being worn away and 
only the bones remaining, while even these have lost 
their natural order of arrangement, they have fallen 
down into the base of the mould which has been formed 
by their impress ; and as the mud becomes lifted above 
the level of the stream, the water runs away so that it 


dries and becomes first a sticky paste and then changes 
into stone, enclosing whatsoever it finds within itself, 
and itself filling up every cavity ; and finding the 
hollow part of the mould formed by these creatures, it 
percolates gradually through the tiny crevices in the 
earth through which the air that is within escapes away, 
that is laterally, for it cannot escape upwards since there 
the crevices are filled up by the moisture descending 
into the cavity, nor can it escape downwards because the 
moisture which has already fallen has closed up the 
crevices. There remain the openings at the side, whence 
this air, condensed and pressed down upon by the 
moisture which descends, escapes with the same slow rate 
of progress as that of the moisture which descends there ; 
and this paste as it dries becomes stone which is devoid 
of weight, and preserves the exact shapes of the creatures 
which have there made the mould, and encloses their 
bones within it. (F 79 *.} 


The creature that resides within the shell constructs 
its dwelling with joints and seams and roofing and the 
other various parts, just as man does in the house in 
which he dwells ; and this creature expands the house 
and roof gradually in proportion as its body increases 
and as it is attached to the sides of these shells. Conse- 
quently the brightness and smoothness which these shells 
possess on the inner side is somewhat dulled at the point 
where they are attached to the creature that dwells there, 
and the hollow of it is roughened, ready to receive the 


knitting together of the muscles by means of which the 
creature draws itself in when it wishes to shut itself up 
within its house. 

When nature is on the point of creating stones, it 
produces a kind of sticky paste, which, as it dries, forms 
itself into a solid mass together with whatever it has 
enclosed there, which, however, it does not change into 
stone but preserves within itself in the form in which it 
has found them. This is why leaves are found whole 
within the rocks which are formed at the bases of the 
mountains, together with a mixture of different kinds of 
things, just as they have been left there by the floods from 
the rivers which have occurred in the autumn seasons ; 
and there the mud caused by the successive inundations 
has covered them over, and then this mud grows into 
one mass together with the aforesaid paste, and becomes 
changed into successive layers of stone which correspond 
with the layers of the mud. (F 80 r.) 


When the floods of the rivers which were turbid with 
fine mud deposited this upon the creatures which dwelt 
beneath the waters near the ocean borders, these creatures 
became embedded in this mud, and finding themselves 
entirely covered under a great weight of mud they were 
forced to perish for lack of a supply of the creatures on 
which they were accustomed to feed. 


In course of time the level of the sea became lower, 
and as the salt water flowed away this mud became 
changed into stone ; and such of these shells as had lost 
their inhabitants became filled up in their stead with 
mud ; and consequently, during the process of change of 
all the surrounding mud into stone, this mud also which 
was within the frames of the half-opened shells, since by 
the opening of the shell it was joined to the rest of the 
mud, became also itself changed into stone ; and there- 
fore all the frames of these shells were left between two 
petrified substances, namely that which surrounded them 
and that which they enclosed. 

These are still to be found in many places, and almost 
all the petrified shell fish in the rocks of the mountains 
still have their natural frame round them, and especially 
those which were of a sufficient age to be preserved by 
reason of their hardness, while the younger ones which 
were already in great part changed into chalk were 
penetrated by the viscous and petrifying moisture. 


And if you wish to say that the shells are produced 
by nature in these mountains by means of the influence 
of the stars, in what way will you show that this influence 
produces in the very same place shells of various sizes 
and varying in age, and of different kinds ? 


And how will you explain to me the fact of the shingle 
being all stuck together and lying in layers at different 


altitudes upon the high mountains ? For there there is 
to be found shingle from divers parts carried from 
various countries to the same spot by the rivers in their 
course ; and this shingle is nothing but pieces of stone 
which have lost their sharp edges from having been rolled 
over and over for a long time, and from the various 
blows and falls which they have met with during the pas- 
sage of the waters which have brought them to this spot, 


And how will you account for the very great number 
of different kinds of leaves embedded in the high rocks 
of these mountains, and for the altga^ the seaweed, which 
is found lying intermingled with the shells and the sand ? 
And in the same way you will see all kinds of petrified 
things together with ocean crabs broken in pieces and 
separated, and mixed with their shells. (F go v.) 


Force I define as an incorporeal agency, an invisible 
power, which by means of unforeseen external pressure 
is caused by the movement stored up and diffused within 
bodies which are withheld and turned aside from their 
natural uses ; imparting to these an active life of marvel- 
lous power, it constrains all created things to change of 
form and position, and hastens furiously to its desired 
death, changing as it goes according to circumstances. 
When it is slow its strength is increased, and speed 
enfeebles it. It is born in violence and dies in liberty ; 
and the greater it is the more quickly it is consumed. 
It drives away in fury whatever opposes its destruction. 


ti 4 OF FORCE 

It desires to conquer and slay the cause of opposition, 
and in conquering destroys itself. It waxes more power- 
ful where it finds the greater obstacle. Everything 
instinctively flees from death. Everything when under 
constraint itself constrains other things. Without force 
nothing moves. The body in which it is born neither 
grows in weight nor in form. None of the movements 
that it makes are lasting. It increases by effort and 
disappears when at rest. The body within which it is 
confined is deprived of liberty. Often also by its move- 
ment it generates new force. (A 34 *.) 


Force I define as a spiritual power, incorporeal and 
invisible, which with brief life is produced in those bodies 
which as the result of accidental violence are brought 
out of their natural state and condition. 

I have said spiritual because in this force there is an 
active, incorporeal life ; and I call it invisible because the 
body in which it is created does not increase either in 
weight or in size ; and of brief duration because it desires 
perpetually to subdue its cause, and when this is subdued 
it kills itself. (B 63 /,) 


No inanimate object will move of its own accord ; 
consequently when in motion it will be moved by unequal 
power, unequal that is in time and velocity, or unequal in 
weight ; and when the impulse of the first motive power 
ceases the second will cease abruptly, (j 22 *.) 

Every impression is preserved for a time in its sensi- 


tive object ; and that which was of greater power will 
be preserved in its object for a longer time, and for a 
shorter time with the less powerful. In this connection 
I apply the term sensitive to such object as by any 
impression is changed from that which was at first an 
insensible object; that is one which, while changing 
from its first state, preserves within itself no impression 
of the thing which has moved it. The sensible im- 
pression is that of a blow received upon a resounding 
substance, such as bells and such like things, or like the 
note in the ear, which, indeed, unless it preserved the 
impression of the notes, could never derive pleasure from 
hearing a voice alone ; for when it passes immediately 
from the first to the fifth note, the effect is as though 
one heard these two notes at the same time, and thus 
perceived the true harmony which the first makes with 
the fifth ; but if the impression of the first note did not 
remain in the ear for an appreciable space of time, the 
fifth, which follows immediately after the first, would 
seem alone, and one note cannot create any harmony, 
and consequently any song whatsoever occurring alone 
would seem to be devoid of charm. 

So, too, the radiance of the sun or other luminous 
body remains in the eye for some time after it has been 
seen ; and the motion of a single firebrand whirled 
rapidly in a circle causes this circle to seem one con- 
tinuous and uniform flame. 

The drops of rain water seem continuous threads 
descending from their clouds ; and so herein one may 
see how the eye preserves the impressions of the moving 
things which it sees. 


The insensible objects which do not preserve the 
impressions of the things which are opposite to them 
are mirrors, and any polished substance which, so soon 
as ever the thing of whiclj it bears the impression is 
removed from before it, becomes at once entirely 
deprived of that impression. We may, therefore, con- 
clude that it is the action of the mover pressing against 
the body moved by it which moves this body in the 
direction in which it moves* 

Amongst the cases of impressions being preserved in 
various bodies we may also instance the wave, the eddies 
of the water, the winds in the air, and a knife stuck 
into a table, which, on being bent in one direction and 
then released, retains for a long time a quivering move- 
ment, all its movements being reciprocal one of another, 
and all may be said to be approaching towards the 
perpendicular of the surface where the knife is fixed 
by its point. 

The voice impresses itself through the air without 
displacement of air, and strikes upon the objects and 
returns back to its source. 

The concussion of liquid bodies with solid is of a 
different character to the above-mentioned cases of con- 
cussion ; and the concussion of liquid with liquid also 
varies from the foregoing. 

Of the concussion of solid with liquid there is seen an 
example in the shores of the ocean, which receive the 
waters full on their rocks and hurl them against the 
steep crags ; and oftentimes it happens that before the 
course of the wave is half completed, the stones carried 
by it return to the sea from whence they came ; and their 


power of destruction is increased by the might of the 
wave which falls back from the lofty cliffs. 

(C. A. 360 r. a.) 

Seeing that the images of the objects are all spread 
throughout all the air which surrounds them, and are all 
in every point of the same, it must be that the images 
of our hemisphere enter and pass together with those of 
all the heavenly bodies through the natural point, in 
which they merge and become united by mutually pene- 
trating and intersecting each other, whereby the image 
of the moon in the east and the image of the sun in 
the west at this natural point become united and blended 
together with our hemisphere. 

O marvellous Necessity, thou with supreme reason 
constrainest all effects to be the direct result of their 
causes, and by a supreme and irrevocable law every 
natural action obeys thee by the shortest possible 
process ! 

Who would believe that so small a space could contain 
the images of all the universe ? O mighty process ! 
What talent can avail to penetrate a nature such as 
thine ? What tongue will it be that can unfold so great 
a wonder ? Verily, none ! This it is that guides the 
human discourse to the considering of divine things. 

Here the figures, here the colours, here all the images 
of every part of the universe are contracted to a point* 

O what point is so marvellous ! 

O wonderful, O stupendous Necessity, thou by thy 
law constrainest all effects to issue from their causes in 


the briefest possible way ! These are the miracles, . . . 
forms already lost, mingled together in so small a space, 
it can recreate and reconstitute by its dilation. 

How it may be that from indistinct causes there may 
issue effects manifest and immediate, as are the images 
which have passed through the aforesaid natural point. 

Write in thy Anatomy what proportion there is be- 
tween the diameters of all the lenses of the eye, and 
the distance from these to the crystalline lens. 

(C. A. 345 v . &.) 


I say that sight is exercised by all animals through 
the medium of light ; and if against this any one should 
instance the sight of nocturnal animals, I would say that 
these in exactly the same way are subject to the same 
law of nature. For, as one may readily understand, the 
senses, when they receive the images of things, do not 
send forth from themselves any actual power ; but on 
the contrary the air which is between the object and the 
sense, serving as a medium, incorporates within itself 
the images of things, and by its own contact with the 
sense presents them to it, if the objects either by sound 
or smell project themselves to the eye or the nose by 
virtue of their incorporeal powers* Here the light is 
not necessary, nor is it made use of. The forms of 
objects do not enter into the air as images unless they 
are luminous ; this being so, the eye cannot receive the 
same from that air which does not contain them, but only 


touches their surface. If you wish to speak of the many 
animals which hunt their prey by night, I answer that 
when that small amount of light sufficient for them to see 
their way fails them, they avail themselves of their powers 
of hearing and smell, which are not impeded by the 
darkness, and in which they are far in advance of man. 
If you watch a cat in the day-time leaping among a lot 
of pieces of crockery you will see that these will remain 
whole ; but if it does the same by night it will break a 
considerable number. Night birds do not fly unless the 
moon is shining either full or in part, but their time of 
feeding is between the hour of sunset and the total dark- 
ness of the night. 

No substance can be comprehended without light and 
shade ; light and shade are caused by light. 

(C. A. 90 r. b.} 


Since the eye is the window of the soul, the latter 
is always in fear of being deprived of it, to such an 
extent that when anything moves in front of it which 
causes a man sudden fear, he does not use his hands to 
protect his heart, which supplies life to the head where 
dwells the lord of the senses, nor his hearing, nor sense 
of smell or taste ; but immediately the affrighted sense, 
not contented with shutting the eyes and pressing their 
lids together with the utmost force, causes him to turn 
suddenly in the opposite direction ; and not as yet 
feeling secure he covers them with the one hand and 
stretches out the other to form a screen against the 
object of his fean (C. A. 119 v. a.) 


The eye, which is used to the darkness, on suddenly 
beholding the light is hurt and therefore closes quickly, 
being unable to endure the light. This is due to the 
fact that the pupil in order to recognise any object in 
the darkness to which it has grown accustomed, increases 
in size, employing all its force to transmit to the re- 
ceptive part the image of things in shadow. And the 
light, suddenly penetrating, causes too large a part of 
the pupil which was in darkness to be hurt by the 
radiance which bursts in upon it, this being the exact 
opposite of the darkness to which the eye has already 
grown accustomed and habituated, and which seeks to 
maintain itself there, and will not quit its hold without 
inflicting injury upon the eye. 

One might also say that the pain caused to the eye 
when in shadow by the sudden light arises from the 
sudden contraction of the pupil, which does not occur 
except as the result of the sudden contact and friction of 
the sensitive parts of the eye. If you would see an 
instance of this, observe and note carefully the size of 
the pupil when any one is looking at a dark place, and 
then cause a candle to be brought before it, and make 
it rapidly approach the eye, and you will see an in- 
stantaneous contraction of the pupil. (C 16 r.) 


I say that the note of the echo is cast back to the ear 
after it has struck, just as the images of objects strike 
the mirror and are thence reflected to the eye. And in 
the same way as these images fall from the object to the 
mirror and from the mirror to the eye at equal angles, so 


the note of the echo will strike and rebound within the 
hollow where it has first struck at equal angles to the ear. 

(C 1 6 r.) 

If the darkness of the night is a hundred degrees 
more intense than that of the evening, and the eye of 
the man doubles the size of its pupil in the darkness, 
then the darkness is halved to the eye, since its power of 
vision has doubled the half; there remain, therefore, 
fifty degrees of intensity of darkness. 

And if in the said darkness the eye of the owl expands 
its pupil a hundred times, the power of vision increases 
a hundred fold, so that a hundred degrees of power of 
vision are acquired ; and since things which are the 
equal of each other do not exceed each other, the bird 
sees in the darkness with the pupil increased a hundred- 
fold just as in the day when the pupil is less by ninety- 
nine hundredths. 

And if you should say that this creature cannot see 
light by day and for this reason remains in concealment, 
the answer to this is that the bird only conceals itself by 
day in order to escape from the crowd of the birds who 
are continually flocking round it in great numbers with a 
loud clamour, and very often they would lose their lives 
if they did not hide themselves in the grottoes and 
caverns of the high rocks. 

Of the nocturnal animals only in the lion tribe does 
the pupil alter its shape as it grows larger or smaller ; 
for when it is at the limit of its contraction it is long in 
form, when it is at the middle it is oval, and when it 

reaches its utmost expansion it is circular. 

(C. A. 262 r. d) 


I say that the power of vision extends by means of the 
visual rays as far as the surface of bodies which are not 
transparent, and that the power possessed by these bodies 
extends up to the power of vision, and that every similar 
body fills all the surrounding air with its image. Each 
body separately and all together do the same, and not 
only do they fill it with the likeness of their shape, but 
also with that of their power. 


You see with the sun when it is at the centre of our 
hemisphere, how there are the images of its form in all 
the parts where it reveals itself, and you see how in all 
those same places there are also the images of its radiance, 
and to these must also be added the image of the power 
of its heat ; and all these powers proceed from the same 
source by means of radiant lines which issue from its 
body and end in the opaque objects without its thereby 
undergoing any diminution. 

The north star remains continually with the images of 
its power spread out, and becoming incorporated not only 
in thin but in thick bodies, in those transparent and those 
opaque, but it does not on this account suffer any loss 
of its shape. 


Those mathematicians, then, who say that the eye has 
no spiritual power which extends to a distance from 
itself, since, if it were so, it could not be without great 
diminution in the use of the power of vision, and that 
though the eye were as great as the body of the earth 


it would of necessity be consumed in beholding the 
stars ; and for this reason they maintain that the eye 
takes in but does not send forth anything from itself, 


What will these say of the musk which always keeps 
a great quantity of the atmosphere charged with its 
odour, and which, if it be carried a thousand miles, will 
permeate a thousand miles with that thickness of atmo- 
sphere without any diminution of itself? 

Or will they say that the sound i which the bell makes 
on its contact with the clapper, which daily of itself 
fills the whole countryside with its sound, must of 
necessity consume this bell ? 

Certainly, it seems to me, there are such men as these 
and that is all that need be said of them. 


Is not that snake called lamia seen daily by the rustics 
attracting to itself with fixed gaze, as the magnet attracts 
iron, the nightingale, which with mournful song hastens 
to her death ? 

It is said also that the wolf has power by its look to 
cause men to have hoarse voices. 

The basilisk is said to have the power by its glance to 
deprive of life every living thing. 

The ostrich and the spider are said to hatch their eggs 
by looking at them. 

Maidens are said to have power in their eyes to attract 
to themselves the love of men. 

The fish called linno, which some name after S. Ermo, 


which is found off the coasts of Sardinia, is it not seen 
at night by the fishermen shedding light with its eyes 
over a great quantity of water as though they were two 
candles? And all those fishes, which come within the 
compass of this radiance, immediately come up to the 
surface of the water and turn over, dead. (C. A. 270 ?. c.) 

Landscapes are of a more beautiful azure when in fine 
weather the sun is at noon than at any other hour of the 
day, because the atmosphere is free from moisture ; and 
viewing them under such conditions, ycu see the trees of 
a beautiful green at their extremities, and the shadows 
dark towards the centre ; and in the further distance the 
atmosphere, which is interposed between you and them, 
appears more beautiful when beyond it there is some 
darker substance, and consequently the azure is most 
beautiful. Objects seen from that side on which the sun 
is shining will not display their shadows to you. " But if 
you are lower than the sun, you will see what was not 
seen by the sun, and that will be all in shadow. The 
leaves of the trees which are between you and the sun 
are of two principal colours, namely, a most beautiful 
vivid green, and the reflection of the atmosphere, which 
illumines whatever is not visible to the sun, and the parts 
in shadow which only face the earth, and the darkest 
parts which are surrounded by something other than 
darkness. The trees by the countryside which are 
between you and the sun are far more beautiful than 
those in respect to which you are between the sun and 
them, and this is the case because those which are in the 
same direction as the sun show their leaves transparent 



Face p. 125 


towards their extremities, and such as are not transparent, 
that is at the tips, reflect the light ; and the shadows are 
dark because they are not covered by anything. 

The trees, when you place yourself between them and 
the sun, will only display to you their light and natural 
colour, which is not of itself very conspicuous, and 
besides this, certain reflected Iights 3 which, owing to their 
not being against a background that offers a strong 
contrast to their brightness, are but little in evidence ; 
and if you are at a lower altitude than these, then those 
parts of them may be visible, on which the light of the 
sun does not fall, and these will be dark. 


But if you are on the side from whence the wind is 
blowing, you will see the trees look much lighter than 
you would see them from the other sides, and this is due 
to the fact that the wind turns up the reverse side of the 
leaves, which is in all cases much paler than their right 
side ; and especially will they be very light if the wind 
blows from the quarter where the sun happens to be, and 
if you have your back turned to it. (#. M. 26$, Ar. 113 v.) 

I have long had the opportunity of observing many 
different [atmospheric effects], and once, above Milan, 
over in the direction of Lake Maggiore, I saw a cloud 
shaped like a huge mountain made up of banks of fire, 
because the rays of the sun which was then setting red 
on the horizon had dyed it with their colour. This great 
cloud drew to itself all the little clouds which were 
round about it. And the great cloud remained stationary 


and retained the light of the sun on its apex for an hour 
and a half after sunset, so enormous was its size. And 
about two hours after night had fallen there arose a 
stupendous and phenomenal wind storm. 

(Lfif. 28 a [R 1021.]) 

At the first hour of the day the atmosphere in the south 
near to the horizon has a dim haze of rose-flushed clouds ; 
towards the west it grows darker, and towards the east 
the damp vapour of the horizon shows brighter than the 
actual horizon itself, and the white of the houses in the east 
is scarcely to be discerned, while in the south, the further 
distant they are, the more they assume a dark rose-flushed 
hue, and even more so in the west ; and with the shadows 
it is the contrary, for these disappear before the white. 

[. . .] in the east, and the tops of the trees are more 
visible than tfteir bases, since the atmosphere is thicker 
lower down, and the structure becomes more indistinct 
at a height. 

And in the south, the trees may sc -i-cly be distin- 
guished by reason of the vapour which urkens in the 
west and grows clear in the east. (c. A. 176 r. b.} 


I say that the blue which is seen in the atmosphere is 
not its own colour, but is caused by the heated moisture 
having evaporated into the most minute imperceptible 
particles, which the beams of the solar rays attract and 
cause to seem luminous against the deep intense dark- 
ness of the region of fire that forms a covering above 
them. And this may be seen, as I myself saw it, by 


any one who ascends Monboso (Monte Rosa), a peak of 
the chain of Alps that divides France from Italy, at 
whose base spring the four rivers which flow as many 
different ways and water all Europe, and there is no 
other mountain that has its base at so great an elevation. 
This mountain towers to so great a height, as almost to 
pass above all the clouds ; and snow seldom falls there, 
but only hail in summer when the clouds are at their 
greatest height ; and there this hail accumulates, so that 
were it not for the infrequency l of the clouds thus rising 
and discharging themselves, which does not happen twice 
in an age, there would be an enormous mass of ice there, 
built up by the various layers of the hail ; and this I 
found very thick in the middle of July. And I saw the 
atmosphere dark overhead, and the rays of the sun 
striking the mountain had far more brightness than in 
the plains below, because less thickness of atmosphere lay 
between the summit of this mountain and the sun. 

As a further example of the colour of the atmosphere, 
we may take the case of the smoke produced by old dry 
wood, for as it comes out of the chimneys it seems to be 
a pronounced blue when seen between the eye and a dark 
space, but as it rises higher and comes between the eye 
and the luminous atmosphere, it turns immediately to an 
ashen grey hue, and this comes to pass because it no 
longer has darkness beyond it, but in place of this the 
luminous atmosphere. But if this smoke comes from 
new green wood, then it will not assume a blue colour, 
because, as it is not transparent, and is heavily charged 

1 MS. has * reta,' which Dr, Richter reads in sense of * malanno.' I have 
adopted Dr. Solmi's suggestion ' rarita.' 


with moisture, it will have the effect of a dense cloud 
which takes definite lights and shadows as though it were 
a solid body. 

The same is true of the atmosphere, which excessive 
moisture renders white, while litde moisture acted upon 
by heat causes it to be dark and of a dark blue colour ; 
and this is sufficient as regards the definition of the 
colour of the atmosphere, although one may also say that 
if the atmosphere had this transparent blue as its natural 
colour^ it would follow that wherever a greater quantity 
of atmosphere came between the eye and the fiery 
element, it would appear of a deeper shade of blue, as is 
seen with blue glass and with sapphires, which appear 
darker in proportion as they are thicker. The atmo- 
sphere, under these conditions, acts in exactly the oppo- 
site way, since where a greater quantity of it comes 
between the eye and the sphere of fire, there it is seen 
much whiter, and this happens towards the horizon ; and 
in proportion as a lesser amount of atmosphere comes 
between the eye and the sphere of fire, of so much the 
deeper blue does it appear, even when we are in the low 
plains. It follows therefore, from what I say, that the 
atmosphere acquires its blueness from the particles of 
moisture which catch the luminous rays of the sun. 

We may also observe the difference between the atoms 
of dust and those of the smoke seen in the sun's rays as 
they pass through the chinks of the walls in dark rooms, 
that the one seems the colour of ashes, and the other- 
the thin smoke seems of a most beautiful blue. We 
may see also, in the dark shadows of mountains, far from 
the eye> that the atmosphere which is between the eye 


and these shadows will appear very blue, and in the por- 
tion of these mountains which is in light, it will not vary 
much from its first colour. 

But whoever would see a final proof, should stain a 
board with various different colours, among which he 
should include a very strong black, and then over them 
all he should lay a thin, transparent white, and he will 
then perceive that the lustre of the white will nowhere 
display a more beautiful blue than over the black, but 
it must be very thin and finely ground. 

(Leu. 4 a [R 300.]) 

When the smoke from dry wood comes between the 
eye of the observer and some dark space it appears blue. 
So the atmosphere appears blue because of the darkness 
which is beyond it ; and if you look towards the horizon 
of the sky, you will see that the atmosphere is not blue, 
and this is due to its density ; and so at every stage as 
you raise your eye up from this horizon to the sky 
which is above you, you will find that the atmosphere 
will seem darker, and this is because a lesser quantity of 
air interposes between your eye and this darkness. And 
if you are on the top of a high mountain the atmosphere 
will seem darker above you just in proportion as it 
becomes rarer between you and the said darkness ; and 
this will be intensified at every successive stage of its 
height, so that at the last it will remain dark. 

That smoke will appear the bluest which proceeds 
from the driest wood, and is nearest to the place of its 
origin, and when it is seen against the darkest background 
with the light of the sun upon it. (F 18 r.) 



How at the mouths of certain valleys the gusts of 
wind strike down upon the waters and scoop them out in 
a great hollow, and carry the water up into the air in the 
shape of a column and of the colour of cloud. And this 
same thing I once saw taking place on a sand-bank in 
the Arno, where the sand was hollowed out to a depth 
of more than a man's stature, and the gravel of it was 
removed and whirled a great distance apart, and assumed 
in the air the form of a mighty campanile, and the 
summit of it grew like the branches of a great pine, and 
then it bent on meeting the swift wind which passed over 
the mountains. (Leic. ^^ b [R 996.]) 

ihough nature has given sensibility to pain to such 
living organisms as have the power of movement, in 
order thereby to preserve the members which in this 
movement are liable to diminish and be destroyed, the 
living organisms which have no power of movement do 
not have to encounter opposing objects, and plants con- 
sequently do not need to have a sensibility to pain, and 
so it comes about that if you break them they do not 
feel anguish in their members as do the animals. 


"Nothing grows in a spot where there is neither 
sentient, fibrous, or rational life* The feathers grow 
upon birds and change every year ; hairs grow upon 
animals, and change every year except a part such as the 
hairs of the beard in lions and cats and creatures like 
these. The grass grows in the fields, the leaves upon 
the trees, and every year these are renewed in great 



yf */J*f . 




Face p. 131 


part. So then we may say that the earth has a spirit of 
growth ; that its flesh is the soil, its bones are the suc- 
cessive strata of the rocks which form the mountains, 
its muscles are the tufa stone, its blood the springs of its 
waters. The lake of blood that lies about the heart is 
the ocean ; its breathing is by the increase and decrease 
of the blood in its pulses, and even so in the earth is 
the flow and ebb of the sea. And the heat of the spirit 
of the world is the fire which is spread throughout the 
earth ; and the dwelling-place of its creative spirit is in 
the fires, which in divers parts of the earth are breathed 
out in baths and sulphur mines, and in volcanoes, such 
as Mount Aetna in Sicily, and many other places. 

(Leic. 34 a [R loooj) 


You should make steps on four sides by which to 
ascend to a plateau formed by nature on the summit of 
a rock ; and let this rock be hollowed out, and supported 
with pillars in front, and pierced beneath by a great 
portico, wherein water should be falling into various 
basins of granite and porphyry and serpentine, within re- 
cesses shaped like a half-circle ; and let the water in 
these be continually flowing over ; and facing this por- 
tico towards the north, let there be a lake with a small 
island in the centre, and on this have a thick and shady 
wood. Let the waters at the top of the pillars be 
poured down into vases standing at their bases, and 
from these let there be flowing tiny rivulets. 

From the coast. Setting out from the coast of 


Cilicia towards the south, you discover the beauty of the 
island of Cyprus, which . . . 

(Windsor MSS. Notes et dessins sur les Altitudes df PRomme 
[Rouveyre] 1 1 r.) 

From the southern sea-board of Cilicia may be seen 
to the south the beautiful island of Cyprus, which was 
the realm of the goddess Venus ; and many there have 
been, who, impelled by her loveliness, have had their 
ships and rigging broken upon the rocks which lie 
amidst the seething waves. Here the beauty of some 
pleasant hill invites the wandering mariners to take their 
ease among its flowery verdure, where the zephyrs con- 
tinually come and go, filling with sweet odours the island 
and the encompassing sea. Alas ! How many ships 
have foundered there ! How many vessels have been 
broken upon these rocks ! Here might be seen an 
innumerable host of ships ; some broken in pieces and 
half buried in sand ; here is visible the poop of one, and 
there a prow ; here a keel and there a rib ; and it seems 
like a day of judgment when there shall be a resurrection 
of dead ships, so great is the mass that covers the whole 
northern shore. There the northern winds resounding 
make strange and fearful noises. 

(Windsor MBS. Notes et dessins sur les Attitudes de FHommc 
[Rouveyre] 11 v.) 

When mountains fall headlong over hollow places they 
shut in the air within their caverns, and this air, in order 
to escape, breaks through the earth, and so produces 


My opponent says this cannot be the case, for either 
the whole mountain which covers the cavern falls or else 
only the inner part of it ; and if the whole falls, then the 
compressed air escapes through the opening of the cave 
which is uncovered, while if only the inner part falls 
then the compressed air escapes into the vacuum which 
is left by the falling earth. (C. A. 289 v. b.) 

Amid all the causes of the destruction of human 
property, it seems to me that rivers on account of their 
excessive and violent inundations hold the foremost place. 
And if as against the fury of impetuous rivers any one 
should wish to uphold fire, such an one would seem to 
me to be lacking in judgment, for fire remains spent and 
dead when fuel fails it, but against the irreparable 
inundation caused by swollen and proud rivers no re- 
source of human foresight can avail ; for in a succession 
of raging and seething [waves], gnawing and tearing 
away the high banks, growing turbid with the earth 
from the ploughed fields, destroying the houses therein 
and uprooting the tall trees it carries these as its prey 
down to the sea which is its lair, bearing along with it 
men, trees, animals, houses, and lands, sweeping away 
every dike and every kind of barrier, bearing with it the 
light things, and devastating and destroying those of 
weight, creating big landslips out of small fissures, filling 
up with its floods the low valleys, and rushing headlong 
with insistent and inexorable mass of waters. 

What a need there is of flight for whoso is near ! O 
how many cities, how many lands, castles, villas and 
houses has it consumed ! 


How many of the labours of wretched husbandmen 
have been rendered idle and profitless! How many 
families has it brought to nought, and overwhelmed ! 
What shall I say of the herds of cattle which have been 
drowned and lost ! 

And often issuing forth from its ancient rocky beds it 

washes over the tilled [lands]. . . . 

(C. A. 361 v. a.} 

Amid the whirling currents of the winds were seen 
a great number of companies of birds coming from 
distant lands, and these appeared in such a way as to be 
almost indistinguishable, for in their wheeling move- 
ments at one time all the birds of one company were 
seen edgewise, that is showing as little as possible of 
their bodies, and at another time showing the whole 
measure of their breadth, that is full in face ; and at 
the time of their first appearance they took the form 
of an indistinguishable cloud, and then the second 
and third bands became by degrees more clearly 
defined as they approached nearer to the eye of the 

And the nearest of the above-mentioned bands dropped 
down low with a slanting movement, and settled upon 
the dead bodies, which were borne along by the waves of 
this great deluge, and fed upon them, and so continued 
until such time as the buoyancy of the inflated dead 
bodies came to fail, and with slow descent they sank 
gradually down to the bottom of the waters. 

(C. A. 354 ft ') 

Like an eddying wind scouring through a hollow, 


sandy valley, and with speeding course driving into its 
vortex everything that opposes its furious onset. . . . 
Not otherwise does the northern blast drive back with 
its hurricane. . . . Nor does the tempestuous sea make 
so loud a roaring when the northern blast beats it back 
in foaming waves between Scylla and Charybdis, nor 
Stromboli nor Mount Etna when the pent-up, sulphurous 
fires, bursting open and rending asunder the mighty 
mountain by their force, are hurling through the 
air rocks and earth mingled together in the issuing 
belching flames. . . . 

Nor when Etna's burning caverns vomit forth and 
give out again the uncontrollable element, and thrust it 
back to its own region in fury, driving before it what- 
ever obstacle withstands its impetuous rage. , . . 

And drawn on by my eager desire, anxious to behold 
the mighty ... of the varied and strange forms created 
by the artificer nature, having wandered for some distance 
among the overhanging rocks, I came to the mouth of 
a huge cavern before which for a time I remained 
stupefied, not having been aware of its existence, my 
back bent to an arch, my left hand clutching my knee, 
while with the right I made a shade for my lowered and 
contracted eyebrows ; bending continually first one way 
and then another in order to see whether I could discern 
anything inside, though this was rendered impossible by 
the intense darkness within ; and after remaining there 
for a time, suddenly there were awakened within me two 
emotions, fear and desire, fear of the dark, threatening 
cavern, desire to see whether there might be any marvel- 
lous thing therein. (5. Af. 26 3, ^.155 r.) 


O powerful and once living instrument of constructive 
nature, thy great strength not availing thee, thou must 
needs abandon thy tranquil life to obey the law which God 
and time ordained for ail procreative nature ! To thee 
availed not the branching, sturdy, dorsal fins wherewith 
pursuing thy prey thou wert wont to plough thy way, tern- 
pestuuusly tearing open the briny waves with thy breast. 

O how many times the frightened shoals of dolphins 
and big tunny fish were seen to flee before thy insensate 
fury ; and thou, lashing with swift, branching fins and 
forked tail, didst create in the sea mist and sudden 
tempest, with loud uproar and foundering of ships ; with 
mighty wave then didst heap up the open shores with the 
frightened and terrified fishes, which thus escaping from 
thee were left high and dry when the sea abandoned 
them, and became the plenteous and abundant spoil of 
the neighbouring peoples. 

O time, swift despoiler of created things ! How 
many kings, how many peoples hast thou brought low ! 
How many changes of state and circumstance have 
followed since the wondrous form of this fish died here 
in this hollow, winding recess ? Now destroyed by time 
patiently thou liest within this narrow space, and with 
thy bones despoiled and bare art become an armour and 
support to the mountain which lies above thee, 1 

1 The text of the above passage is in parts very indistinct. As my 
transcript differs in ievera] places from that given by Dr. Richter (Literary 
Works ofL.daP. 121 7), I give the passage in extensoi 

O potcte c gia anjrnato struraeto dell arteficiosa natura | a te n6 valfido le 
tue gra force ti chauene abadonare la traquilla vita obedjre alia legie | chel 
che djo el tepo dje alia gienj trice natura a tette no ualse | le ramvte e (Leg) 


O how many times hast thou been seen amid the waves 
of the mighty, swelling ocean, towering like a mountain, 
conquering and overcoming them ! And with black 
finned back ploughing through the salt waves with proud 
and stately bearing ! (C. A. 265 r. a.) 


Nature being capricious, and taking pleasure in creat- 
ing and producing a succession of new lives and forms 
because she knows that they serve to increase her terres- 
trial substance, is more ready and swift so to create than 
time is to destroy ; and therefore she has ordained that 
many of the animals shall serve as food one for the other. 
And as her desire is still unsatisfied, she frequently sends 
forth certain noisome and pestilential vapours upon the 
rapidly increasing herds of animals, and especially upon 
men, who increase very rapidly because other animals do 

ha ghagliard(r)e (aprt) schiene cholle quali tu seghuitado la tua | pleda 
(aprivis) solchavi chopetto apredo chotepessta le salse ode | 

* O quate volte (fusti) furono vedute le Ipavrite schiere | de dalfini e de gra 
tonnj fugi(<i)re dal inpia tua tua ffuria (pcchupare) \ ettu cho chol velocie 
rarovte lalie cholla forcielluta choda fuminado gieneravj nel mare j nibia 
(iatepessta) subita tepessta cho gra busso e somersione dj navilj cho gra | de 
Odameto epievi gli schcp(er)ti liti (de gra) degli ipavritj essbigho | ttitj pesscj 
e togledosi atte p(er) lasciato mare ii(#) masi in seccho djvenjvano sup(er)cha 
e a | bodante pleda de vicinj popolj. 

f (0 tepoquati re.) 

* O tepo chonsumatore delle (dj tutte le) chose : ateri volgiedole | dai (to) alle 
tratte vice nvuove e varie abitazionj (O quate \ monarchic cha o quati). O 
tfipo (vicitore) velocie pledatore | della chleate chose quatj re quati popolj ai 
tu djssfattj e qua | te mutazionj djsstatj e vari chasj (so) sono seghuitj po che 
la mara | vgliosa forma dj q(ue)sto pesscie quj raorj | p(er) le chav(er)nose e 
ritorte interiora | 

* ora disfato dal tepo pazgte djaci j questo chivso locho chole jsspogliate 
spolpate e ignjvde ossa | ai fatto (ra) armadura e sosstegnjo al sop(r)a possto 


not feed upon them, and if these causes were removed 
the results would cease. So therefore this earth seeks to 
lose its life, desiring only constant reproduction, and as 3 
for the reason which you have assigned and expounded, 
the effects are generally in harmony with their causes, 
so animals are a type of the life of the world. 

(B. M 263, Ar. 156^.) 

The watery element remained pent up within the 
raised banks of the rivers, and the sea is seen amid the 
upheaved masses of the earth ; the surrounding air 
served to bind together and circumscribe the earth's 
manifold structure, because its mass which stood between 
the water and the fiery element remained straitly com- 
passed about, and deprived of the needful supply of 
water. The rivers will remain without their waters; 
the fertile earth will put forth no more her light leaves, 
no more will the fields be decked with waving corn ; all 
the animals will perish failing to find fresh grass for 
fodder, and the ravening lions and wolves and other 
beasts which live by prey will lack sustenance, and after 
many desperate shifts men will be forced to abandon 
their lives, and the human race will cease to be. Hence 
the fertile and fruitful earth being deserted will be left 
arid and sterile, but by reason of the stored-up moisture 
of the water confined within its depths and by the very 
activity of nature it will observe something of its law of 
growth, until after having passed through the cold and 
rarified air it will be forced to end its course in the 
element of fire ; and then the surface of it will remain 
burnt to a cinder, and this will be the end of all terres- 
trial nature. (. M. 263, Ar. \ 5 j *.) 


Nothingness has no centre, and its boundaries are 

My opponent says that nothingness and a vacuum are 
one and the same thing, having indeed two separate 
names by which they are called, but not existing 
separately in nature. 

The reply is that whenever there exists a vacuum 
there will also be the space which surrounds it, but 
nothingness exists apart from occupation of space ; it 
follows that nothingness and a vacuum are not the 
same, for the one is divisible to infinity, and nothingness 
cannot be divided because nothing can be less than it is ; 
and if you were to take part from it this part would be 
equal to the whole, and the whole to the part. 

(C. A. 289 v. b.) 


The note of the echo is either continuous or inter- 
mittent, it occurs alone or is united, is of brief or long 
duration, finite or endless in sound, immediate or far 
away. It is continuous when the surface on which the 
echo is produced is uniformly concave. The note of 
the echo is intermittent when the place which produces it 
is broken and interrupted. It is alone when it is pro- 
duced in one place only. It is united when it is produced 
in several places. It is either brief or long-continuing, 
as when it goes winding round within a bell which has 
been struck, or in a cistern or other hollow space, or 
in clouds wherein the note recurs at fixed distances in 
regular intervals of time, ever uniformly growing fainte^ 


and is like the wave that spreads itself out in a circle 
over the sea. 

The sound often seems to proceed from the direction 
of the echo, and not from the place where the real sound 
is ; and similarly it happened at Ghiera d'Adda, when a 
fire which broke out there caused in the air twelve lurid 
reflections upon twelve clouds, and the cause was not 
perceived. (C. A. 77 v. ) 


That sound which remains or seems to remain in the 
bell after it has received the stroke is not in the bell 
itself but in the ear of the listener, and the ear retains 
within itself the image of the stroke of the bell which it 
has heard, and only loses it by slow degrees, like that 
which the impression of the sun creates in the eye, 
which only by slow degrees becomes lost and is no 
longer seen. 


If the aforesaid proposition were true, you would not 
be able to cause the sound of the bell to cease abruptly 
by touching it with the palm of the hand, especially at 
the beginning of its strength, for surely if it were touched 
it would not happen that as you touched the bell with the 
hand the ear would simultaneously withhold the sound ; 
whereas we see that if after the stroke has taken place 
the hand is placed upon the thing which is struck the 
sound suddenly ceases. (C. Ji. 332 v. a.) 


I have divided the 'Treatise on <Birds into four books : 
of which the first treats of their flight by beating their 
wings ; the second of flight without beating the wings 
and with the help of the wind ; the third of flight in 
general, such as that of birds, bats, fishes, animals, 
and insects ; the last of the mechanism of this movement. 

The bird in its flight without the help of the wind 
drops half the wing downwards, and thrusts the other 
half towards the tip backwards ; and the part which is 
moved down prevents the descent of the bird, and that 
which goes backwards drives the bird forward. 

When the bird raises its wings it brings their ex- 
tremities near together ; and while lowering them it 
spreads them further apart during the first half of the 
movement, but after this middle stage as they continue 
to descend it brings them together again. (K 12 v.) 

When the bird lowers one of its wings necessity 
constrains it instantly to extend it, for if it did not do 
so it would turn right over. 

The bird when it wishes to turn does not beat its 
wings with equal movement, but moves the one which 
makes the convex of the circle it describes, more than 
that which makes the concave of the circle. (K 4 &.) 

The bird beats its wings repeatedly on one side only 
when it wishes to turn round while one wing is held 
stationary; and this it does by taking a stroke with the 
wing in the direction of the tail, like a man rowing in 


a boat with two oars, who takes many strokes on that 
side from which he wishes to escape, and keeps the other 
oar fixed. (K 7 r.) 

Unless the movement of the wing which presses the 
air is swifter than the flight of the air when pressed, 
the air will not become condensed beneath the wing, and 
in consequence the bird will not support itself above 
the air. 

That part of the air which is nearest to the wing 
will most resemble in its movement the movement of 
the wing which presses on it ; and that part will be more 
stable which is further removed from the said wing. 

That part of the air which is the nearest to the wing 
which presses on it, will have the greatest density. 

The air has greater density when it is nearer to water, 
and [greater rarity] when it is nearer to the cold region, 
and midway between these it is purer. 

The air of the cold region offers no resistance to the 
movement of the birds unless they have already passed 
through a considerable space of the air beneath them. 

The extremities of the wings of birds are of necessity 

The properties of the air are such that it may become 
condensed or rarefied. (C. A. 161 r. a.) 

The birds which seek to penetrate within the approach- 
ing wind are in the habit of fluttering to the right and 
to the left, like sailors tacking against the direction of the 
winds ; and this they do in order not to make a long 
descent, for if the bird did not guard against descending 


for any great distance, it would be driven right against 
the current of the wind ; and, entering under the wind 
slanting lengthwise, it will present so much of its weight 
by this line as to subdue the resistance of the wind. 

(K 8 v.) 

The opening and lowering of the tail and the spread- 
ing out of the wings at the same time to their full 
extent, arrests the swift movement of birds. 

When birds in descending are near to the ground, 
and the head is below the tail, they then lower the tail, 
which is spread wide open, and take short strokes with 
the wings ; and consequently the head becomes higher 
than the tail, and the speed is checked to such an extent 
that the bird alights on the ground without any shock. 

In all the changes which birds make in their lines of 
movement they spread out their tails. 

There are many birds which move their wings as 
swiftly when they raise them as when they let them fall : 
such as magpies and birds like these. (L 58 *.) 

There are some birds which are in the habit of moving 
their wings more swiftly when they lower them than when 
they raise them, and this is seen to be the case with 
doves and such like birds. . 

There are others which lower their wings more slowly 
than they raise them, and this seen with rooks and other 
birds like these. 

The birds which fly swiftly, keeping at the same distance 
above the ground, are in the habit of beating their wings 
downwards and behind them, downwards to the extent 


necessary to prevent the bird from descending, and 
behind when they wish to advance with greater speed. 

The speed of birds is checked by the opening and 
spreading out of the tail. (L 59 */.) 


The imperceptible fluttering of the wings without any 
actual strokes keeps the bird poised and motionless amid 
the moving air. 

The reverse movement against the direction of the 
wind will always be greater than the advancing move- 
ment ; and the reverse movement when made with the 
course of the wind will be increased by the wind, and 
will become equal to the advancing movement. 

The ways in which birds rise, without beating their 
wings but by circles, with the help of the wind, are of two 
kinds, simple and complex. The simple comprise those 
in which, in their advancing movement, they travel above 
the flight of the wind, and at the end of it turn and face the 
direction of the wind, receiving its buffeting from beneath, 
and so finish the reverse movement against the wind. 

The complex movement by which birds rise is also 
circular, and consists of an advancing and reverse move- 
ment against the direction of the wind in a course which 
takes the form of a half circle, and of an advancing and 
reverse movement which follows the course of the wind. 

The simple circular movement of rising without beat- 
ing the wings will always occur when there is great 
agitation of the winds, and this being the case, it follows 
that the bird in so rising is also carried a considerable 


distance by the force of the wind. And the complex 
movement will be found to occur when there are light 
winds, for experience shows that in these complex 
movements the bird rises through the air without being 
carried too far by the wind in the direction in which it is 

The down and feathers underneath the wings are 
plentiful, and at the ends of the wings and tail the tips of 
the feathers are flexible or capable of being bent, whilst 
those on the front of the wing, where it strikes the air, 
are firm. (C. A. 508 r. .) 

My opponent says that he cannot deny that the bird 
cannot fall either backwards or with head underneath 
in a perpendicular line ; but that it seems to him that its 
descent may be sheer if it keeps the wings wide open and 
has one of the wings as well as the head below its centre 
of gravity. 1 To this argument the answer is the same as 
to what preceded it ; that is, that if this bird being in ?uch 
a position without having other means of aiding itself 
were to drop perpendicularly, it would be contrary to 
the fourth part of the second book of the Elements, 
where it was proved that every body which falls freely 
through the air will fall in such a way that the heaviest 
part of it will become the guide of its movement ; and 
here the heaviest part is found to be midway between 
the extremities of the open wings, that is midway between 
the two lightest parts, and therefore, as has been proved, 
such a descent is impossible. 

1 The MS. has here an explanation of a diagram : * that is, it will drop in 
the line a b, the wings d c being wide apart at their natural extension.' 



We have therefore proved that when a bird has its 
wings spread out and its head somewhat raised, it is 
impossible for it ever to fall or descend in a perpen- 
dicular line ; on the contrary, it will always descend by 
a slanting line, and every tiny movement of wings or 
tail changes the direction and slanting descent of this 
line to the reflex movement 

Nature has so provided that all the large birds can 
stay at so great an elevation that the wind which 
increases their flight may be of straight course and 
powerful. For if their flight were low, among moun- 
tains where the wind goes wandering and is perpetually 
full of eddies and whirlwinds, and where they cannot 
find any spot of shelter by reason of the fury of the icy 
blasts among the narrow defiles of the mountains, nor 
can so guide themselves with their great wings as to 
avoid being dashed upon the cliffs and the high rocks 
and trees, would not this sometimes prove to be the cause 
of their destruction ? Whereas at great altitudes when- 
ever through some accident the course of the wind is 
changed in any way whatsoever the bird has always time 
to redirect its course, and in safety take a calm flight, 
which will always be entirely free ; and it can always 
pass above clouds and thereby avoid wetting its wings. 

Inasmuch as all beginnings of things are often the 
cause of great results, so we may see a small almost 
imperceptible movement of the rudder to have power 
to turn a ship of marvellous size and loaded with a very 
heavy cargo, and that, too, amid such a weight of water 
as presses on its every beam, and in the teeth of the 


impetuous winds which are enveloping its mighty sails. 
Therefore we may be certain in the case of those birds 
which can support themselves above the course of the 
winds without beating their wings, that a slight move- 
ment of wing or tail, which will serve them to enter 
either below or above the wind, will suffice to prevent 
the fall of the said birds. (C. A. 308 v. ) 

The helms which are on the shoulders of the wings are 
necessary when the bird in its flight without beating its 
wings wishes to maintain itself in. part of a tract of air, 
upon which it is either slipping down or rising, and 
when it wishes to bend either upwards or downwards 
or to right or left. It then uses these helms in this 
manner : if the bird wishes to rise it spreads the helm 
in the opposite direction to the way the wind strikes it ; 
and if to descend it spreads the top part of the helm 
slanting to the course of the wind. If it turns to the 
right it spreads the right helm to the wind, and if it 
turns to the left it spreads the left helm to the wind. 

When the bird rises up by the assistance of the wind 
without beating its wings, it spreads out and raises its 
wings so that they form an arch with the concave side 
towards the sky, and it receives the wind under its wings 
continually, in its movement to and fro, and this would 
cause it to turn right over, if it were not that the point 
of its tail is turned to the wind as it enters beneath the 
wind ; and this afterwards by its power of resistance acts 
to prevent the said movement of turning over, because 
the wings are restrained by the tail in such a way that 


their various parts are of equal power, and so the tail 
becomes partly lowered and the bird is raised forward 
slightly. (K 10 v.) 

When the kite rises or sinks without beating its wings, 
it holds them slanting, and keeps the tail slanting in 
the same way but not to the same extent, for if this 
were so the bird would fall to the ground by the line 
of the slant of the wings and of the tail ; but as this 
tail is away from the centre of the bird's length it meets 
with somewhat more resistance than the wings, and this 
in consequence checks its movement, and so the tail 
has less movement than the wings. Necessity causes 
the bird to move with a circular motion, and as the tail 
is less slanting, so in proportion the circles are less in 
diameter, and so also conversely. (K 60 [u] r. 59 [ro] *.) 

When the bird is carried along by the wind and 
wishes to turn quickly towards it, it will then enter 
beneath the wind with the wing turned towards it ; and 
then with the feathers of the tail turned towards the 
wind, it will enter upon it, and so by the help of the 
wind striking upon its tail it turns much more rapidly. 

If one of the wings is lowered rapidly and then folded 
the bird drops a little on that side ; and if it is lowered 
rapidly and extended the bird drops on the opposite 
side ; and if it is lowered slowly and extended the bird 
moves in a circle round this ,wing, falling as it proceeds ; 
and if it is lowered slowly and with hesitation, and 
folded up 3 then the bird descends in curves on that side* 


All birds driven by the water or by the wind keep 
their heads in the direction from whence the water or 
the wind are coming. Ther do this in order to prevent 
the wind or the water penetrating up from the extremities 
to the roots of the feathers, so that each of the feathers 
may be pressed against another, and thus they may 
remain drier and warmer. ( 3 .) 

The bird rises to a height in a straight line without 
beating its wings when the reflex current of the wind 
strikes it from underneath, (K 3 r.) 


When the kite in descending turns itself right over 
and pierces the air head downwards, it is forced to bend 
the tail as far as it can in the opposite direction to that 
which it desires to follow ; and then again bending the 
tail swiftly, according to the direction in which it wishes 
to turn, the change in the bird's course corresponds to 
the turn of the tail, like the rudder of a ship which 
when turned turns the ship, but in the opposite direc- 

When the wind is about to throw the bird backwards 
then the bird draws together the shoulders of its wings, 
so that its weight is massed more to the front than it was 
at first, and consequently the part that is heaviest is first 
in its descent, while in addition the tail is spread out 
and bent down. (L 6z r.} 

The kite and the other birds which move their wings 
only a little way, go in search of the current of the 


wind ; and when the wind is blowing at a height they 
may be seen at a great elevation^ but if it is blowing low 
down then they remain low. 

When there is no wind stirring in the air then the 
kite beats its wings more rapidly in its flight, in such a 
way that it rises to a height and acquires an impetus ; 
with which impetus, dropping then very gradually, it can 
travel for a great distance without moving its wings. 

And when it has descended it does the saro, over 
again, and so continues for many times in succession. 

This method of descending without moving the wings 
serves it as a means of resting in the air after the fatigue 
of the above mentioned beating of the wings. 

All the birds which fly in spurts rise to a height by 
beating their wings ; and during their descent they 
proceed to rest themselves, for while descending they do 
not beat their wings. (Sul 7 oh degli UcceUi 

The swallow has its wings quite different from those of 
the kite, for it is very narrow in the shoulder and long 
in the span of the wing. Its stroke when it flies is made 
up of two distinct actions, that is the span of the wing is 
spread out like an oar in the direction of the tail, the 
shoulder towards the earth ; and in this way while the 
one movement impels it forward, the other keeps it at 
its height, and the two combined carry it a stage 
onwards wherever it pleases. (C. A. 369 r. a.) 

The thrushes and other small birds are able to make 
headway against the course of the wind, because they 
fly in spurts; that is they take a long course below 


the wind, by dropping in a slanting direction towards 
the ground, with their wings half closed, and they then 
open the wings and catch the wind in them with their 
reverse movement, and so rise to a height ; and then 
they drop again in the same way. (c. A. 313 r. I.} 

Remember that your bird should have no other 
model than the bat, because its membranes serve as an 
armour or rather as a means of binding together the 
pieces of its armour, that is the framework of the wings. 

And if you take as your pattern the wings of feathered 
birds, these are more powerful in structure of bone and 
sinew because they are penetrable, that is to say the 
feathers are separated from one another and the air 
passes through them. But the bat is aided by its 
membrane which binds the whole together and is not 
penetrated by the air. (Sv! Polo degli Uccdli, 16 [15] r.) 


Of whether birds when continually descending 
without beating their wings will proceed a greater dis- 
tance in one sustained curve, or by frequently making 
some reflex movement ; and whether when they wish to 
pass in flight from one spot to another they will go more 
quickly by making impetuous, headlong movements, and 
then rising up with reflex movement and again making a 
fresh descent, and so continuing. 1 o speak of this sub- 
ject you must needs in the first book explain the nature 
of the resistance of the air, in the second the anatomy 
of the bird and of its wings, in the third the method 
of working of the wings in their various movements, 


in the fourth the power of the wings and of the tail, 
at such time as the wings are not being moved and 
the wind is favourable, to serve as a guide in different 

Dissect the bat, study it carefully, and on this model 
construct the machine. 


A bird is an instrument working according to mathe- 
matical law, which instrument it is within the capacity 
of man to reproduce with all its movements, but not 
with a corresponding degree of strength, though it is 
deficient only in the power of maintaining equilibrium. 
We may therefore say that such an instrument con- 
structed by man is lacking in nothing except the life 
of the bird, and this life must needs be supplied from 
that of man. 

The life which resides in the bird's members will 
without doubt better conform to their needs than will 
that of man which is separated from them, and especially 
in the almost imperceptible movements which preserve 
equilibrium. But since we see that the bird is equipped 
for many obvious varieties of movements, we are able 
from this experience to deduce that the most rudimen- 
tary of these movements will be capable of being 
comprehended by man's understanding ; and that he 
will to a great extent be able to provide against the 
destruction of that instrument of which he has himself 
become the living principle and the propeller. 

(C. A, 161 r. *.) 


There is as much pressure exerted by a substance 
against the air as by the air against the substance. 

Observe how the beating of its wings against the air 
suffices to bear up the weight of the eagle in the highly 
rarefied air which borders on the fiery element! Ob- 
serve also how the air moving over the sea, beaten back 
by the bellying sails, causes the heavily laden ship to 
glide onwards! So that by adducing and expounding 
the reasons of these things you may be able to realise 
that man when he has great wings attached to him, by 
exerting his strength against the resistance of the air 
and conquering it, is enabled to subdue it and to raise 
himself upon it. (C. A. 381 v. a.) 

Suppose that here there is a body suspended, which 
resembles that of a bird, and that its tail is twisted to 
an angle of various different degrees ; you will be able 
by means of this to deduce a general rule as to the 
various twists and turns in the movements of birds 
occasioned by the bending of their tails. 

In all the varieties of movements the heaviest part of 
the thing which moves becomes the guide of the move- 
ment. (L 6 1 P.) 

The bird I have described ought to be able by the 
help of the wind to rise to a great height, and this will 
prove to be its safety ; since even if all the above-men- 
tioned revolutions were to befall it, it would still have 
time to regain a condition of equilibrium ; provided 
that its various parts have a great power of resistance, 
so that they can safely withstand the fury and violence 
of the descent, by the aid of the defences which I have 


mentioned ; and its joints should be made of strong 
tanned hide, and sewn with cords of very strong raw 
silk. And let no one encumber himself with iron bands, 
for these are very soon broken at the joints or else they 
become worn out, and consequently it is well not to 

encumber one's self with them. 

(Sul Poto degli Uccclli, 8 [7] r.) 


You will perhaps say that the sinews and muscles of 
a bird are incomparably more powerful than those of 
man, because all the girth of so many muscles and of 
the fleshy parts of the breast goes to aid and increase 
the movement of the wings, while the bone in the breast 
is all in one piece and consequently affords the bird very 
great power, the wings also being all covered with a 
network of thick sinews and other very strong ligaments 
of gristle, and the skin being very thick with various 
muscles. But the reply to this is that such great strength 
gives it a reserve of power beyond what it ordinarily uses 
to support itself on its wings, since it is necessary for 
it whenever it may so desire either to double or treble 
its rate of speed in order to escape from its pursuer 
or to follow its prey. Consequently in such a case it 
becomes necessary for it to put forth double or treble 
the amount of effort, and in addition to this to carry 
through the air in its talons a weight corresponding to 
its own weight. So one sees a falcon carrying a duck 
and an eagle carrying a hare ; which circumstance shows 
clearly enough where the excess of strength is spent ; for 


they need but little force in order to sustain themselves, 
and to balance themselves on their wings, and flap them in 
the pathway of the wind and so direct the course of their 
journeyings ; and a slight movement of the wings is 
sufficient for this, and the movement will be slower in 
proportion as the bird is greater in size. 

Man is also possessed of a greater amount of strength 
in his legs than is required by his weight. And in order 
to show the truth of this, place a man to stand upon 
the sea-shore, and observe how far the marks of his feet 
sink in ; and then set another man on his back, and you 
will see how much deeper the marks of his feet will be. 
Then take away the man from his back, and set him to 
jump straight up as high as he can ; you will then find 
that the marks of his feet make a deeper impression 
where he has jumped than where he has had the other 
man on his back. This affords us a double proof that 
man is possessed of more than twice the amount of 
strength that is required to enable him to support himself. 

(Sul Polo degli Ucctlli 17 [l 6] r.) 




THE eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the 
chief means whereby the understanding may most fully 
and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature ; 
and the ear is the second inasmuch as it acquires its 
importance from the fact that it hears the things 
which the eye has seen. If you historians, or poets, 
or mathematicians had never seen things with your 
eyes you would be ill able to describe them in your 
writings. And if you, O poet, represent a story by 
depicting it with your pen, the painter with his brush 
will so render it as to be more easily satisfying and less 
tedious to understand. If you call painting c dumb 
poetry/ then the painter may say of the poet that his 
art is * blind painting/ Consider then which is the more 
grievous affliction, to be blind or be dumb ! I Although 
the poet has as wide a choice of subjects as the painter, 
his creations fail to afford as much satisfaction to man- 
kind as do paintings, for while poetry attempts with 
words to represent forms, actions, and scenes, the painter 



employs the exact images of the forms in order to re- 
produce these forms. Consider, then, which is more 
fundamental to man, the name of man or his image : 
The name changes with change of country ; the form 
is unchanged except by death. 

And if the poet selves the understanding by way of 
the ear, the painter does so by the eye which is the nobler 
sense. I will only cite as an instance of this how if a 
good painter represents the fury of a battle and a poet 
also describes one, and the two descriptions are shown 
together to the public, you will soon see which will 
draw most of the spectators, and where there will be 
most discussion, to which most praise will be given and 
which will satisfy the more. There is no doubt that the 
painting which is by far the more useful and beautiful 
will give the greater pleasure. Inscribe in any place the 
name of God and set opposite to it his image, you will 
see which will be held in greater reverence ! 

Since painting embraces within itself all the forms of 
nature you have nothing omitted except the names, and 
these are not universal like the forms, If you have the 
results of her processes we have the processes of her 

Take the case of a poet describing the beauties of a 
lady to her lover and that of a painter who makes a 
portrait of her ; you will see whither nature will the 
more incline the enamoured judge. Surely the proof of 
the matter ought to rest upon the verdict of experience ! 

You have set painting among the mechanical arts! 
Truly were painters as ready equipped as you are to 
praise their own works in writing I doubt whether it would 


endure the reproach of so vile a name. If you call it 
mechanical because it is by manual work that the hands 
represent what the imagination creates, your writers are 
setting down with the pen by manual work what origi- 
nates in the mind. If you call it mechanical because it 
is done for money, who fall into this error if indeed 
it can be called an error more than you yourselves ? 
If you lecture for the Schools do you not go to whoever 
pays you the most ? Do you do any work without 
some reward? And yet I do not say this in order to 
censure such opinions, for every labour looks for its 
reward. And if the poet should say, ' I will create a 
fiction which shall express great things,' so likewise will 
the painter also, for even so Apelles made the Calumny. 
If you should say that poetry is the more enduring, 
to this I would reply that the works of a coppersmith 
are more enduring still, since time preserves them longer 
than either your works or ours ; nevertheless they show 
but little imagination ; and painting if it be done upon 
copper in enamel colours can be made far more en- 

In Art we may be said to be grandsons unto God. 
If poetry treats of moral philosophy, painting has to do 
with natural philosophy ; if the one describes the work- 
ings of the mind, the other considers what the mind 
effects by movements of the body ; if the one dismays 
folk by hellish fictions, the other does the like by show- 
ing the same things in action. Suppose the poet sets 
himself to represent some image of beauty or terror, 
something vile and foul, or some monstrous thing, in 
contest with the painter, and suppose in his own way 


he makes a change of forms at his pleasure, will not the 
painter still satisfy the more ? Have we not seen pic- 
tures which bear so close a resemblance to the actual 
thing that they have deceived both men and beasts ? 

If you know how to describe and write down the 
appearance of the forms, the painter can make them so 
that they appear enlivened with lights and shadows 
which create the very expression of the faces; herein 
you cannot attain with the pen where he attains with 

the brush* (ib. Nat. MS. 2038, 19 r. and y., 20 r. 

So soon as the poet ceases to represent in words what 
exists in nature, then the poet ceases to be like the 
painter ; for if the poet were to leave such representa- 
tion and describe the polished and persuasive words of 
him whom he wishes to represent speaking, then he 
becomes an orator and is no longer a poet or a painter ; 
and if he speaks of the heavens he becomes an astrologer ; 
and a philosopher and theologian when discoursing of the 
works of nature or of God, But if he confines himself 
to the representation of specific objects he' will vie with 
the painter only if by his words he can satisfy the eye to 
the same extent as he does. 

{Windsor MSS. Notes et desrins sur la Generation [Roureyre], I r.), 


If you despise painting, which is the sole imitator of 
all the visible works of nature, it is certain that you will 
be despising a subtle invention which with philosophical 
and ingenious speculation takes as its theme all the various 


kinds of forms, airs, and scenes, plants, animals, grasses 
and flowers, which are surrounded by light and shade. 
And this truly is a science and the true-born daughter of 
nature, since painting is the offspring of nature. But in 
order to speak more correctly we may call it the grand- 
child of nature ; for all visible things derive their exist- 
ence from nature, and from these same things is born 
painting. So therefore we may justly speak of it as 
the grandchild of nature and as related to God Him- 
self. (MS. 2038 Bib. Nat. 20 r.) 


As practising myself the art of sculpture no less than 
that of painting, and doing both the one and the other 
in the same degree, it seems to me that without suspicion 
of unfairness I may venture to give an opinion as to 
which of the two is the more intellectual, and of the 
greater difficulty and perfection. In the first place 
sculpture is dependent on certain lights, namely those 
from above, while a picture carries everywhere with it 
its own light and shade ; light and shade therefore are 
essential to sculpture. In this respect the sculptor is 
aided by the nature of the relief which produces these of 
its own accord, but the painter artificially creates them 
by his art in places where nature would normally do the 
like. The sculptor cannot render the difference in the 
varying natures of the colours of objects ; painting does 
not fail to do so in any particular. The lines of perspec- 
tive of sculptors do not seem in any way true ; those of 
painters may appear to extend a hundred miles beyond 


the work itself. The effects of aerial perspective are 
outside the scope of their work ; they can neither repre- 
sent transparent bodies nor luminous bodies nor angles 
of reflection nor shining bodies such as mirrors and like 
things of glittering surface, nor mists, nor dull weather, 
nor an infinite number of things which I forbear to 
mention lest they should prove wearisome. 

The one advantage which it has is that of offering 
greater resistance to time; yet painting offers a like 
resistance if it is done upon thick copper covered with 
white enamel and then painted upon with enamel colours 
and placed in a fire and fused. In degree of permanence 
it then surpasses even sculpture. I 

It may be urged that if a mistake is made it is not 
easy to set it right, but it is a poor line of argument to 
attempt to prove that the fact of a mistake being ir- 
remediable makes the work more noble. I should say 
indeed that it is more difficult to correct the mind of the 
master who makes such mistakes than the work which 
he has spoiled* We know very well that a good 
experienced painter will not make such mistakes ; on the 
contrary following sound rules he will proceed by 
removing so little at a time that his work will progress 
well. The sculptor also if he is working in clay or wax 
can either take away from it or add to it, and when the 
model is completed it is easy to cast it in bronze ; and 
this is the last process and it is the most enduring form 
of sculpture, since that which is only in marble is liable 
to be destroyed, but not when done in bronze. 

But painting done upon copper, which by the methods 
in use in painting may be either taken from or altered, 



is like the bronze, for when you have first made the 
model for this in wax it can still be either reduced or 
altered. While the sculpture in bronze is imperish- 
able, this painting upon copper and enamel is absolutely 
eternal ; and while bronze remains dark and rough, this 
is full of an infinite variety of varied and lovely colours, 
of which I have already made mention. But if you 
would have me speak only of panel painting I am 
content to give an opinion between it and sculpture by 
saying that painting is more beautiful, more imaginative, 
and richer in resource, while sculpture is more enduring, 
but excels in nothing else. Sculpture reveals what it is 
with little effort ; painting seems a thing miraculous, 
making things intangible appear tangible, presenting in 
relief things which are flat, in distance things near at 
hand. In fact painting is adorned with infinite possi- 
bilities of which sculpture can make no use. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 25 r. and 24 v.) 

The sculptor cannot represent transparent or luminous 
things. (C. A. 215 v. <) 


If you wish to make a figure of marble make first one 
of clay, and after you have finished it and let it dry, set 
it in a case, which should be sufficiently large that after 
the figure has been taken- out it can hold the block of 
marble wherein you purpose to lay bare a figure re- 
sembling that in clay. Then after you have placed the 
clay figure inside this case make pegs so that they fit 
exactly into holes in the case, and drive them in at each 
hole until each Fhitg peg touches the figure at a different 


(Dyer? Gretmvtetf] 

Facep. 163 

(Stalked Oak] 


spot ; stain black such parts of the pegs as project out 
of the case, and make a distinguishing mark for each peg 
and for its hole so that you may fit them together at 
your ease. Then take the clay model out of the case 
and place the block of marble in it, and take away from 
the marble sufficient for all the pegs to be hidden in the 
holes up to their marks, and in order to be able to do 
this better make the case so that the whole of it can be 
lifted up and the bottom may still remain under the 
marble ; and by this means you will be able to use the 
cutting tools with great readiness. (A 43 r.) 



The mind of the painter should be like a mirror 
which always takes the colour of the thing that it reflects 
and which is filled by as many images as there are things 
placed before it. Knowing therefore that you cannot 
be a good master unless you have' a universal power of 
representing by your art all the varieties of the forms 
which nature produces, which indeed you will not know 
how to do unless you see them and retain them in your 
mind, look to it, O Painter, that' when you go into the 
fields you give your attention to the various objects and 
look carefully in turn first at one thing and then at an- 
other, making a bundle of different things selected and 
chosen from- among those of less value. And do not 
after the manner of some painters who when tired by 
imaginative work, lay aside their task and take exercise 
by walking in order to find relaxation, keeping, however, 
such weariness of mind as prevents them either seeing or 


being conscious of different objects ; so that often when 
meeting friends or relatives, and being saluted by them, 
although they may see and hear them they know them 
no more than if they had met only so much air. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. ^ r.) 


The painter will produce pictures of little merit if he 
takes the works of others as his standard ; but if he will 
apply himself to learn from the objects of nature he will 
produce good results. This we see was the case with the 
painters who came after the time of the Romans, for 
they continually imitated each other, and from age to age 
their art steadily declined. 

After these came Giotto the Florentine, and he, 

reared in mountain solitudes, inhabited only by goats 
and such like beasts turning straight from nature to 
his art, began to draw on the rocks the movements of 
the goats which he was tending, and so began to draw 
the figures of all the animals which were to be found in 
the country, in such a way that after much study he not 
only surpassed the masters of his own time but all those 
of many preceding centuries. After him art again 
declined, because all were imitating paintings already 
done ; and so for centuries it continued to decline until 
such time as Tommaso the Florentine, nicknamed 
Masaccio, showed by the perfection of his work how 
those who took as their standard anything other than 


nature, the supreme guide of all the masters, were 
wearying themselves in vain* Similarly I would say as 
to these mathematical subjects, that those who study only 
the authorities and not the works of nature are in art 
the grandsons and not the sons of nature, which is the 
supreme guide of the good authorities. 

Mark the supreme folly of those who censure such as 
learn from nature, leaving uncensured the authorities who 
were the disciples of this same nature ! (C. A. 141 r. .) 


The painter requires such knowledge of mathematics 
as belongs to painting, and severance from companions 
who are not in sympathy with his studies, and his brain 
should have the power of adapting itself to the tenor of 
the objects which present themselves before it, and he 
should be freed from all other cares. 

And if while considering and examining one subject a 
second should intervene, as happens when an object 
occupies the mind, he ought to decide which of these 
subjects presents greater difficulties in investigation, and 
follow that until it becomes entirely clear, and afterwards 
pursue the investigation of the other. And above all he 
should keep his mind as clear as the surface of a mirror, 
which becomes changed to as many different colours as 
are those of the objects within it, and his companions 
should resemble him in a taste for these studies, and if 
he fail to find any such he should accustom himself to 
be alone in his investigations, for in the end he will find 
no more profitable companionship. (C. A. 184 v. r.) 



The painter or draughtsman ought to be solitary in 
order that the well-being of the body may not sap the 
vigour of the mind, and more especially when he is 
occupied with the consideration and investigation of 
things which by being continually present before his 
eyes furnish food to be treasured up in the memory. 

If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself ; if you 
are accompanied even by one companion you belong only 
half to yourself, or even less in proportion to the thought- 
lessness of his conduct ; and if you have more than one 
companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight. 

If you should say, * I will take my own course ; I will 
retire apart, so that I may be the better able to investigate 
the forms of natural objects,' then I say this must needs 
turn out badly, for you will not be able to prevent your- 
self from often lending an ear to their chatter ; and not 
being able to serve two masters, you will discharge 
badly the duty of companionship and even worse that 
of endeavouring to realise your conceptions in art. 

But suppose you say, C I will withdraw so far apart 
that their words shall not reach me nor in any way dis- 
turb me,' I reply that in this case you will be looked 
upon as mad, and bear in mind that in so doing you 
will then be solitary. 

If you must have companionship choose it from your 
studio ; it may then help you to obtain the advantages 
which result from different methods of study. All 
other companionship may prove extremely harmful. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 27 v. and r.) 



We may frankly admit that certain people deceive 
themselves who apply the title *a good master' to a 
painter who can only do the head or the figure well. 
Surely it is no great achievement if by studying one 
thing only during his whole lifetime he attain to some 
degree of excellence therein ! But since, as we know, 
painting embraces and contains within itself all the things 
which nature produces or which result from the fortui- 
tous actions of men, and in short whatever can be com- 
prehended by the eyes, it would seem to me that he is 
but a poor master who only makes a single figure well. 
For do you not see how many and how varied are the 
actions which are performed by men alone? Do you 
not see how many different kinds of animals there are, 
and also of trees and plants and flowers ? What variety 
of hilly and level places, of springs, rivers, cities, public 
and private buildings ; of instruments fitted for man's 
use ; of divers costumes, ornaments, and arts ? 
Things which should be rendered with equal facility 
and grace by whoever you wish to call a good painter. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 25 *.) 


When you wish to see whether the general effect of 
your picture corresponds with that of the object repre- 
sented after nature, take a mirror and set it so that it 
reflects the actual thing, and then compare the reflec- 
tion with your picture, and consider carefully whether 


the subject of the two images is in conformity with both, 
studying especially the mirror. The mirror ought to 
be taken as a guide, that is the flat mirror for within 
its surface substances have many points of resemblance 
to a picture; namely that you see the picture made 
upon one plane showing things which appear in relief, 
and the mirror upon one plane does the same. The 
picture is one single surface, and the mirror is the same. 
The picture is intangible, inasmuch as what appears 
round and detached cannot be enclosed within the hands, 
and the mirror is the same. The mirror and the pic- 
ture present the images of things surrounded by shadow 
and light, and each alike seems to project considerably 
from the plane of its surface. And since you know 
that the mirror presents detached things to you by 
means of outlines and shadows and lights, and since 
you have moreover amongst your colours more power- 
ful shadows and lights than those of the mirror, it is 
certain that if you but know well how to compose y<pur 
picture it will also seem a natural thing seen in a great 
mirror. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 24 /.) 

Painters oftentimes deceive themselves by representing 
water in which they render visible what is seen by 
man ; whereas the water sees the object from one side 
and the man sees it from the other ; and it frequently 
happens that the painter will see a thing from above 
and the water sees it from beneath, and so the same 
body is seen in front and behind, and above and below, 
for the water reflects the image of the object in one 
way and the eye sees it in another. (c. A. 354 v. a.) 



We know well that mistakes are more easily detected 
in the works of others than in one's own, and that often- 
times while censuring the small faults of others you will 
overlook your own great faults. In order to avoid 
such ignorance make yourself first of all a master of 
perspective, then gain a complete knowledge of the pro- 
portions of man and other animals, and also make 
yourself a good architect, that is in so far as concerns 
the form of the buildings and of the other things which 
are upon the earth, which are infinite in form ; and the 
more knowledge you have of these the more will your 
work be worthy of praise ; and for those things in which 
you have no practice do not disdain to draw from nature. 
But to return to what has been promised above, I say 
that when you are painting you should take a flat mirror 
and often look at your work within it, and it will then 
be seen in reverse, and will appear to be by the hand of 
some other master, and you will be better able to judge 
of its faults than in any other way. It is also a good 
plan every now and then to go away and have a little 
relaxation ; for then when you come back to the work 
your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly 
at work will cause you to lose the power of judgment. 
It is also advisable to go some distance away, because 
then the work appears smaller, and more of it is taken 
in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion in 
the various parts and in the colours of the objects is 
more readily seen. (MS. 2038, Bit. Nat. z8 r.) 



The painter ought to strive at being universal, for 
there is a great lack of dignity in doing one thing 
well and another badly, like many who study only the 
measurements and proportions of the nude figure and 
do not seek after its variety ; for a man may be properly 
proportioned and yet be fat and short or long and thin, 
or medium. And whoever does not take count of these 
varieties will always make his figures in one mould so 
that they will all appear sisters, and this practice deserves 
severe censure. 


It is an easy matter for whoever knows how to re- 
present man to afterwards acquire this universality, for 
all the animals which live upon the earth resemble each 
other in their limbs, that is in muscles, sinews, and 
bones, and they do not vary at all, except in length 
or thickness as will be shown in the Anatomy. There 
are also the aquatic animals, of which there are many 
different kinds ; and with regard to these I do not advise 
the painter to make a fixed standard> for they are of 
almost infinite variety ; and the same is also true of 
the insect world. (G 5 v.) 


Surely when a man is painting a picture he ought not 
to feftise to hear any man's opinion, for we know very 


well that though a man may not be a painter, he has 
a true conception of the form of another man and will 
judge aright whether he is hump-backed or has one 
shoulder high or low, or whether he has a large mouth 
or nose or other defects. 

Since then we recognise that men are able to form a 
true judgment as to the works of nature, how much the 
more does it behove us to admit that they are able to 
judge our faults. For you know how much a man is 
deceived in his own works, and if you do not recognise 
this in your own case observe it in others and then you 
will profit by their mistakes. Therefore you should be 
desirous of hearing patiently the opinions of others, and 
consider and reflect carefully whether or no he who 
censures you has reason for his censure ; and correct 
your work if you find that he is right, but if not, then 
let it seem that you have not understood him, or in 
case he is a man whom you esteem show him by 
argument why it is that he is mistaken. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 26 r.) 


Any master who let it be understood that he could 
himself recall all the forms and effects of nature would 
certainly appear to me to be endowed with great 
ignorance, considering that these effects are infinite and 
that our memory is not of so great capacity as to suffice 
thereto. Do you therefore, O Painter, take care lest the 


greed for gain prove a stronger incentive than renown 
in art, for to gain this renown is a far greater thing than 
is the renown of riches. For these, then, and other 
reasons which might be given, you should apply yourself 
first of all to drawing in order to present to the eye in 
visible form the purpose and invention created originally 
in your imagination ; then proceed to take from or add 
to it until you satisfy yourself; then have men arranged 
as models draped or nude in the way in which you have 
disposed them in your work ; and make the proportions 
and size in accordance with perspective, so that no part 
of the work remains that is not so counselled by reason 
and by the effects in nature. And this will be the way 
to make yourself renowned in your art. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 26 r.) 


I have proved in my own case that it is of no small 
benefit on finding oneself in bed in the dark to go 
over again in the imagination the main outlines of the 
forms previously studied, or of other noteworthy things 
conceived by ingenious speculation ; and this exercise is 
entirely to be commended, and it is useful in fixing 
things in the memory. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 26 r.) 


I will not refrain from setting among these precepts 


a new device for consideration which, although it may 
appear trivial and almost ludicrous, is nevertheless of 
great utility in arousing the mind to various inventions. 
And this is that if you look at any walls spotted with 
various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of 
stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will 
be able to see in it a resemblance to various different 
landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, 
plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You 
will also be able to see divers combats and figures in 
quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and 
outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things 
which you can then reduce into separate and well con- 
ceived forms. With such walls and blends of different 
stones it comes about as it does with the sound of bells, 
in whose clanging you may discover every name and 
word that you can imagine. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 22 v.) 


When you draughtsmen wish to find some profitable 
recreation in games you should always practise things 
which may be of use in your profession, that is by 
giving your eye accuracy of judgment so that it may 
know how to estimate the truth as to the length and 
breadth of objects. So in order to accustom the mind 
to such things let one of you draw a straight line any- 
where on a wall, and then let each of you take a light 


rush or straw in his hand, and let each cut his own to 
the length which the first line appears to him when he 
is distant from it a space of ten braccia, and then let 
each go up to the copy in order to measure it against 
the length which he has judged it to be, and he whose 
measure comes nearest to the "length of the copy has 
done best and is the winner, and he should receive from 
all the prize which was previously agreed upon by 
you. Furthermore you should take measurements fore- 
shortened, that is, you should take a spear or some other 
stick and look before you to a certain point of distance, 
and then let each set himself to reckon how many times 
this measure is contained in the said distance. Another 
thing is to see who can draw the best line one braccio in 
length, and this may be tested by tightly drawn thread. 
Diversions such as these enable the eye to acquire 
accuracy of judgment, and this 'is the primary essential 
of painting. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 26 p.) 

Painters have a good opportunity of observing actions 
in players, especially at ball or tennis or with the mallet 
when they are contending together, better indeed than 
in any other place or exercise. (/ $ v \ 


The winter evenings should be spent by youthful 
students in study of the things prepared during the 
summer ; that is, all the drawings from the nude which 
you have made in the summer should be brought 


together, and you should make a choice from among 
them of the best limbs and bodies and practise at these 
and learn them by heart. 


Afterwards in the ensuing summer you should make 
choice of some one who has a good presence, and has 
not been brought up to wear doublets, and whose figure 
consequently has not lost its natural bearing, and make 
him go through various graceful and elegant movements. 
If he fails to show the muscles very clearly within the 
outlines of the limbs, this is of no consequence. It is 
enough for you merely to obtain good attitudes from 
the figure, and you can correct the limbs by those which 
you have studied during the winter. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 27 r.) 


There are many men who have a desire and love for 
drawing but no aptitude for it, and this can be discerned 
in children if they are not diligent and never finish their 
copies with shading. 

The painter is not worthy of praise who only does 
one thing well, as the nude, or a head, or draperies, or 
animal life, or landscapes, or such other special subject, 
for there is no one so dull of understanding that after 
devoting himself to one subject only and continually 
practising at this, he will fail to do it well. 



Men and words are actual, and you, painter, if you 
do not know how to execute your figures, will be 
like an orator who does not know how to use his 
words. (K 1 10 [30] #) 

The painter who draws by practice and judgment of 
the eye without the use of reason, is like the mirror 
which reproduces within itself all the objects which are 
set opposite to it without knowledge of the same. 

(C. A. 76 r. a.) 


We know clearly that the sight is one of the swiftest 
actions that can exist, for in the same instant it surveys 
an infinite number of forms ; nevertheless it can only 
comprehend one thing at a time. To take an instance : 
you, O Reader, might at a glance look at the whole of 
this written page and you would instantly decide that 
it is full of various letters, but you will not recognise 
in this space of time either what letters they are or what 
they purport to say, and therefore it is necessary for you 
if you wish to gain a knowledge of these letters to take 
them word by word and line by line. Again, if you 
wish to go up to the summit of a building it will be 
necessary for you to ascend step by step, otherwise it 
will be impossible to reach the top. So I say to you 
whom nature inclines to this art, if you would have a 
true knowledge of the forms of different objects you 


should commence with their details and not pass on to 
the second until the first is well in your memory and 
you have practised it. If you do otherwise you will be 
throwing away time, and to a certainty you will greatly 
prolong the period of study- And remember to acquire 

diligence rather than facility. 

(MS. 2038, Bib* Nat. z8 r.) 


If as draughtsman you wish to study well and pro- 
fitably, accustom yourself when you are drawing to work 
slowly, and to determine between the various lights 
which possess the highest degree of brightness and in 
what measure, and similarly as to the shadows which are 
those that are darker than the rest, and in what manner 
they mingle together, and to compare their dimensions 
one with another ; and so with the contours to observe 
which way they are tending, and as to the lines what 
part of each is curved in one way or another, and where 
they are more or less conspicuous and consequently thick 
or fine ; and lastly to see that your shadows and lights 
may blend without strokes or lines in the manner of 
smoke. And when you shall have trained your hand 
and judgment with this degree of care, it mil speedily 
come to pass that you will have no need to take thought 
thereto. (MS. 2038, JB& Nat. 27 v.) 


I say that one ought first to learn about the limbs 
and how they are worked, and after having completed 


this knowledge one ought to study their actions in the 
different conditions in which men are placed, and thirdly 
to devise figure compositions, the studies for these 4 be5ng 
taken from natural actions made on occasion as oppor- 
tunities offered, and one should be on the watch in the 
streets and squares and fields, and there make sketches 
with rapid strokes to represent features, that is for a 
head one may make an 0, and for an arm a straight or 
curved line, and so in like manner for the legs and 
trunk, afterwards when back at home working up these 
notes in a completed form. 

My opponent says that in order to gain experience 
and to learn how to work readily, it is better that the 
first period of study should be spent in copying various 
compositions made by different masters either on sheets 
of paper or on walls, since from these one acquires 
rapidity in execution and a good method. But to this 
it may be replied that the ensuing method would be 
good if it was founded upon works that were excellent 
in composition and by diligent masters ; and since such 
masters are so rare that few are to be found, it is safer 
to go direct to the works of nature than to those 
which have been imitated from her originals with great 
deterioration and thereby to acquire a bad method, 
for he who has access to the fountain does not go to 
the water-pot. (C . Am I9g 9f A) 


First of all copy drawings by a good master made by 
his art from nature and not as exercises ; then from a 


relief, keeping by you z drawing done from the same 
relief ; then from a good model, and of this you ought 
to make a practice. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 33 r.) 


If you desire to acquire facility in keeping in your 
mind the expression of a face, first learn by heart the 
various different kinds of heads, eyes, noses, mouths, 
chins, throats, and also necks and shoulders. To take 
as an instance noses. They are of ten types : straight, 
bulbous, deep-set, prominent either above or below the 
centre, aquiline, regular, ape-like, round, and pointed. 
These divisions hold good as regards profile. Seen from 
in front noses are of twelve types : thick in the middle, 
thin in the middle, with the tip broad and narrow at the 
base, or narrow at the tip and broad at the base, with 
nostrils broad or narrow, or high or low, and with the 
openings either distended or hidden by the tip. And 
similarly you "will find variety in the other features ; of 
which things you ought to make studies from nature and 
so fix them in your mind. Or when you have to draw 
a face from memory, carry with you a small note-book 
in which you have noted down such features, and then 
when you have cast a glance at the face of the person 
whom you wish to draw, you can then look privately 
and see which nose or mouth has a resemblance to it, 
and make a tiny mark against it in order to recognise 
it again at home. Of monstrous faces I here say 
nothing, for they are kept in mind without difficulty. 

(MS. 2038, Btl>, Nut. 26 r.) 



If nature had only one fixed standard for the propor- 
tions of the various parts, then the faces of all men 
would resemble each other to such a degree that it would 
be impossible to distinguish one from another ; but she 
has varied the five parts of the face in such a way that 
although she has made an almost universal standard as 
to their size she has not observed it in the various con- 
ditions to such a degree as to prevent one from being 
clearly distinguished from another. (C. A* ng v. a.) 


As regards the arrangement of the limbs, you should 
bear in mind that when you wish to represent one who 
by some chance has either to turn backwards or on one 
side you must not make him move his feet and all his 
limbs in the same direction as he turns his head ; but 
you should show the process spreading itself and taking 
effect over the four sets of joints, namely those of ,the 
foot, the knee, the hip, and the neck. And if you let 
his weight rest on the right leg, you should make the 
knee of the left bend inwards ; and the foot of it should 
be slightly raised on the outside, and the left shoulder 
should be somewhat lower than the right ; and the nape 
of the neck should be exactly above the outer curve of 
the ankle of the left foot, and the left shoulder should 
be above the toe of the right foot in a perpendicular 
line. <And always so dispose your figures that the 
direction in which the head is turned is not that in 
which the breast faces, since nature has for our con- 


venience so formed the neck that it can easily serve the 
different occasions on which the eye desires to turn in 
various directions; and to this same organ the other 
joints are in part responsive. And if ever you show a 
man sitting with his hands at work upon something by 
his side, make the chest turn upon the hip-joints. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 30 n) 


If you have to represent a man either as moving or 
lifting or pulling or carrying a weight equal to his own 
weight how ought you to fit the legs under his body ? 

(C. A. 349 r. ) 


Further I remind you to pay great attention in giving 
limbs to your figures so that they may not merely appear 
to harmonise with the size of the body but also with 
its age. So the limbs of youths should have few muscles 
and veins, and have a soft surface and be rounded and 
pleasing in colour ; in men they should be sinewy and 
full of muscles; in old men the surface should be 
wrinkled, and rough and covered with veins, and with 
the sinews greatly protruding. 


Little children have all the joints slender while the 
intervening parts are thick ; and this is due to the fact 
that the joints are only covered by skin and there is no 

1 82 OF LIMBS 

flesh at all over them, and this skin acts as a sinew to gird 
and bind together the bones ; and a flabby layer of flesh 
is found between one joint and the next shut in between 
the skin and the bone. But since the bones are thicker at 
the joints than between them, the flesh as the man grows 
up loses that superfluity which existed between the skin 
and the bone, and so the skin is drawn nearer to the bone 
and causes the limbs to seem more slender. But since 
there is nothing above the joints except cartilaginous 
and sinewy skin this cannot dry up, and not being dried 
up it does not shrink. So for these reasons the limbs of 
children are slender at the joints and thick between the 
joints, as is seen in the joints of the fingers, arms, and 
shoulders which are slender and have great dimples ; and 
a man on the contrary has all the joints of fingers, arms, 
and legs thick, and where children have hollows men have 
the joints protruding. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 28 *.) 


The limbs should fit the body gracefully in harmony 
with the effect you wish the figure to produce ; and if 
you desire to create a figure which shall possess a charm 
of its own, you should make it with limbs graceful and 
extended, without showing too many of the muscles, 
and the few which your purpose requires you to show 
indicate briefly, that is without giving them prominence 
and with the shadows not sharply defined, and the limbs, 
and especially the arms, should be easy, that is that no 
limb should be in a straight line with the part that ad- 
joins it. And if the hips, which form as it were the 
poles of the man, are by his position placed so that the 


rignt is higher than the left, you should make the top 
shoulder joint so that a line drawn from it perpendicu- 
larly falls on the most prominent part of the hip, and 
let this right shoulder be lower than the left. And let 
the hollow of the throat always be exactly over the 
middle of the joint of the foot which is resting on the 
ground. The leg which does not support the weight 
should have its knee below the other and near to the 
other leg. 

The positions of the head and arms are numberless, 
and therefore I will not attempt to give any rule; it 
will suffice that they should be natural and pleasing and 
should bend and turn in various ways, with the joints 
moving freely so that they may not seem like pieces of 

Wood. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 29 ft.) 


O painter skilled in anatomy, beware lest the undue 
prominence of the bones, sinews, and muscles cause you 
to become a wooden painter from the desire to make 
your nude figures reveal all their emotions. And if you 
wish to remedy this you should consider in what way the 
muscles of old or lean persons cover or clothe the bones, 
and futhermore note the principle on which these same 
muscles fill up the spaces of the surface which come 
between them, and which are the muscles that never 
lose their prominence in any degree of fatness what- 
soever, and which those whereof the tendons become 
indistinguishable at the least suggestion of it. And 
there are many cases when several muscles grow to look 
one from the increase of fat, and many in which when 


any one becomes lean or old a single muscle divides into 
several ; and in this treatise all their peculiarities shall 
be set forth each in its place, and especially with regard 
to the spaces that come between the joints of each limb. 
Further you should not fail to observe the variations 
of the aforesaid muscles round the joints of the limbs 
of any animal, due to the diversity of the movements of 
each limb ; for on any side of these joints the indication 
of these muscles becomes completely lost by reason 
either of the increase or diminution of the flesh of which 
these muscles are composed. (E 19 v.) 


It is a necessary thing for the painter in order to be 
able to fashion the limbs correctly in the positions and 
actions which they can represent in the nude, to know 
the anatomy of the sinews, bones, muscles and tendons 
in order to know in the various different movements 
and impulses which sinew or muscle is the cause of each 
movement, and to make only these prominent and 
thickened, and not the others all over the limb, as do 
many who in order to appear great draughtsmen make 
their nudes wooden and without grace, so that it seems 
rather as if you were looking at a sack of nuts than a 
human form or at a bundle of radishes rather than the 
muscles of nudes* (L 79 r.) 


The painter who has acquired a knowledge of the 
nature of the sinews, muscles, and tendons will know 


exactly in the movement of any limb how many, and 
which of the sinews are the cause of it, and which muscle 
by its swelling is the cause of this sinew contracting, and 
which sinews having been changed into most delicate 
cartilage surround and contain the said muscle. So he 
will be able in divers ways and universally to indicate 
the various muscles by means of the different attitudes 
of his figures ; and he will not do like many who in 
different actions always make the same things appear in 
the arm, the back, the breast, and the legs; for such 
things as these ought not to rank in the category of 
minor faults. (MS. 2038, ^^ r.) 


That part of the fold which is furthest from the ends 
where it is confined will return most closely to its 
original form. Everything naturally desires to remain 
in its own state. Drapery being of uniform density 
and thickness on the reverse and on the right side, 
desires to lie flat ; consequently, whenever any folds or 
pleats force it to quit this condition of flatness, it obeys 
the law of this force in that part of itself where it is 
most constrained, and the part furthest away from such 
constraint you will find return most nearly to its original 
state, that is to say, lying extended and full. 

(MS. 1038, Sib* Nat. 4 r.) 

How one ought not to give drapery a confusion of 
many folds, but only make them where it is held by the 
hands or arms, and the rest may be suffered to fall simply 
where its nature draws it : and do not let the contour 


of the figure be broken by too many lines or interrupted 

How draperies should be drawn from nature : that is, 
if you wish to represent woollen cloth draw the folds 
from the same material, and if it is to be silk, or fine 
cloth, or homespun, or of linen, or crape, show the 
different nature of the folds in each ; and do not make 
a costume as many make it from models covered with 
pieces of paper or thin leather, for you will be deceiving 
yourself greatly. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 17 *.) 


How figures when dressed in a cloak ought not to 
show the shape to such an extent that the cloak seems 
to be next to the flesh ; for surely you would not wish 
that the cloak should be next the flesh since you must 
realise that between the cloak and the flesh are other 
garments which prevent the shape of the limbs from 
being visible and appearing through the cloak- And 
those limbs which you make visible make thick of their 
kind so that there may seem to be other garments there 
under the cloak. And you should only allow the almost 
identical thickness of the limbs to be visible in a nymph 
or an angel, for these are represented clad in light 
draperies, which .by the blowing of the wind are driven 
and pressed against the various limbs of the figures. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 1 8 r.) 


In order to produce the same effect of action in a 
picture on the part of an old man and a young, you 



Fact p. 1 86 


must make the action of the young man appear more 
vigorous in proportion as he is more powerful than the 
old man, and you will make the same difference between 
a young man and an infant. (C. A, 349 r. b.) 

Let the movements of men be such as are in keeping 
with their dignity or meanness. (C. A. 345 v. b.) 

Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose 
and design ; that is, when you make your figure you 
should consider carefully who it is and what you wish it 
to be doing. (C. A. 349 r. b.) 


Let the sketches for historical subjects be rapid, and 
the working of the limbs not too much finished. Con- 
tent yourself with merely giving the positions of these 
limbs which you will then be able at your leisure to 
finish as you please. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 8 v.) 

The youth ought first to learn perspective, then the 
proportions of everything, then he should learn from the 
hand of a good master in order to accustom himself to 
good limbs ; then from nature in order to confirm for 
himself the reasons for what he has learnt ; then for a 
time he should study the work of different masters : 
then make it a habit to practise and work at his art. 

How the first picture was nothing but a line which 
surrounded the shadow of a man made by the sun upon 
a wall. 

How historical pictures ought not to be crowded and 
confused by many figures. 

How old men should be shown with slow, listless 


movements, with the legs bent at the knees when they 
are standing up, with the feet parallel and separated one 
from another, the spine bent low, the head leaning 
forward, and the arms not too far apart. 

How women should be represented in modest atti- 
tudes, with legs close together, arms folded^ and with 
their heads low and bending sideways. 

How old women should be represented as bold, with 
swift, passionate movements like the infernal furies, and 
these movements should seem quicker in the arms and 
heads than in the legs. 

Little children should be represented when sitting as 
twisting themselves about with quick movements, and in 
shy, timid attitudes when standing up. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 17 v.) 


When you have thoroughly learnt perspective, and 
have fixed in your memory all the various parts and 
forms of things, you should often amuse yourself when 
you take a walk for recreation, in watching and taking 
note of the attitudes and actions of men as they talk and 
dispute, or laugh or come to blows one with another, 
both their actions and those of the bystanders who either 
intervene or stand looking on at these things ; noting 
these down with rapid strokes in this way, 1 in a little 
pocket-book, which you ought always to carry with you. 
And let this be of tinted paper, so that it may not be 
rubbed out ; but you should change the old for a new 

1 Sketch of figure in text of MS. 


one, for these are not things to be rubbed out but 
preserved with the utmost diligence ; for there is such 
an infinite number of forms and actions of things that 
the memory is incapable of preserving them, and there- 
fore you should keep those [sketches] as your patterns 
and teachers. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat, 27 v. 


This custom, which is universally adopted by painters 
for the walls of chapels, is by right strongly to be 
censured, seeing that they represent one composition at 
one level with its landscape and buildings, and then 
mount to the stage above it and make another, and so 
vary the point of sight from that of the first painting, and 
then make a third, and a fourth, in such a way that the 
work on the one wall shows four points of sight, which 
is the height of folly on the part of such masters. Now 
we know that the point of sight is opposite the eye of 
the spectator of the composition, and if you were to ask 
me how I should represent the life of a saint when it is 
divided up in several compositions on the same wall, to 
this I reply that you ought to set the foreground with 
its point of sight on a level with the eye of the spectators 
of the composition, and at this same plane make the 
chief episode on a large scale, and then by diminishing 
gradually the figures and buildings upon the various hills 
and plains, you should represent all the incidents of the 
story- And on the rest of the wall up to the top you 
should make trees large as compared with the figures, or 
angels if these are appropriate to the story, or birds or 


clouds or similar things; but otherwise do not put 
yourself to the trouble for the whole of your work will 
be wrong. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 16 r.) 


If you have a courtyard which when you so please you 
can cover over with a linen awning the light will then be 
excellent. Or when you wish to paint a portrait paint 
it in bad weather, at the fall of the evening, placing the 
sitter with his back to one of the walls of the courtyard. 
Notice in the streets at the fall of the evening the faces 
of tfite men and women when it is bad weather, what 
grace and softness they display. Therefore, O painter, 
you should have a courtyard fitted up with the walls 
tinted in black and with the roof projecting forward - 
a little beyond the wall ; and the width of it should be 
ten braccia, and the length twenty braccia, and the 
height ten braccia ; and you should cover it over with 
the awning when the sun is on it, or else you should 
make your portrait at the hour of the fall of the evening 
when it is cloudy or misty, for the light then is perfect. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 20 v.) 


Methinks it is no small grace in a painter to be able 
to give a pleasing air to his figures, and whoever is not 
naturally possessed of this grace may acquire it by study, 
as opportunity offers, in the following manner. Be on 
the watch to take the best parts of many beautiful faces 


of which the beauty is established rather by general 
repute than by your own judgment, for you may readily 
deceive yourself by selecting such faces as bear- a re- 
semblance to your own, for it would often seem that 
such similarities please us ; and if you were ugly you 
would not select beautiful faces, and so you would be 
creating ugly faces like many painters whose types often 
resemble their master ; so therefore choose the beautiful 
ones as I have said, and fix them in your mind. 

(MS. 2038, Bit. Nat. 27 n) 


The painter who has clumsy hands will reproduce the 
same in his works, and the same thing will happen with 
every limb unless long study prevents it. Do you then, 
O painter, take careful note of that part in yourself which 
is most mis-shapen, and apply yourself by study to 
remedy this entirely. For if you are brutal, your figures 
will be the same and devoid of grace, and in like manner 
every quality that there is within you of good or of evil 
will be in part revealed in your figures. (A 23 r.) 

A picture or any representation of figures ought to 
be done in such a way that those who see them may 
be able with ease to recognise from their attitudes what 
is passing through their minds. So if you have to 
represent a man of good repute in the act of speaking, 
make his gestures accord with the probity of his speech ; 
and similarly if you have to represent a brutal man, 
make him with fierce movements flinging out his arms 


towards his hearer, and the head and chest protruding 
forward beyond the feet should seem to accompany the 
hands of the speaker. 

Just so a deaf mute who sees two people talking, 
although being himself deprived of the power of hearing, 
is none the less able to divine from the movements and 
gestures of the speakers the subject of their discussion. 

I once saw in Florence a man who had become deaf, 
who could not understand you if you spoke to him 
loudly, while if you spoke softly without letting the 
voice utter any sound, he understood you merely from 
the movement of the lips. Perhaps, however, you will 
say to me : * But does not a man who speaks loudly move 
his lips like one who speaks softly ? And since the one 
moves his lips like the other, will not the one be under- 
stood like the other ? * As to this I leave the decision 
to the test of experience. Set some one to speak softly 

and then [loudly], and watch the lips ! 

(C. A. 139 *'.) 


That figure is most worthy of praise which by its 
action best expresses the passion which animates it. 


An angry figure should be represented seizing some 
one by the hair and twisting his head down to the 
ground, with one knee on his ribs, and with the right 


arm and fist raised high up; let him have his hair 
dishevelled, his eyebrows low and knit together, his 
teeth clenched, the two corners of his mouth arched, 
and the neck, which is all swollen and extended as he 
bends over the foe, should be full of furrows. 


A man who is in despair you should make turning 
his knife against himself, and rending his garments with 
his hands, and one of his hands should be in the act 
of tearing open his wound. Make him with his feet 
apart, his legs somewhat bent, and the whole body like- 
wise bending to the ground, and with his hair torn and 
streaming. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 29 v.) 


Whatever is entirely deprived of light is all darkness. 
When such is the condition of night, if you wish to re- 
present a scene therein, you must arrange to introduce a 
great fire there, and then the things which are nearest to 
the fire will be more deeply tinged with its colour, for 
whatever is nearest to the object partakes most fully 
of its nature ; and making the fire of a reddish colour 
you should represent all the things illuminated by it as 
being also of a ruddy hue, while those which are farther 
away from the fire should be dyed more deeply with 
the black colour of the night. The figures which are 
between you and the fire will appear dark against the 
brightness of the flame, for that part of the object which 
you perceive is coloured by the darkness of the night, 



and not by the brightness of the fire ; those which are 
at the sides should be half in shadow and half in ruddy 
light ; and those visible beyond the edge of the flames 
will all be lit up with ruddy light against a dark back- 
ground. As for their actions, show those who are near 
it, making a screen with hands and cloaks as a protection 
against the unbearable heat, with faces turned away as 
though on the point of flight; while of those further 
away you should show a great number pressing their 
hands upon their eyes, hurt by the intolerable glare. 

(MS. 2038, m. Nat. 1 8 v.) 


When you desire to represent any one speaking among 
a group of persons you ought to consider first the 
subject of which he has to treat, and how so to order 
his actions that they may be in keeping with this sub- 
ject. That is, if the subject be persuasive the actions 
should serve this intention ; if it be one that needs to be 
expounded under various heads, the speaker should take 
a finger of his left hand between two fingers of his right, 
keeping the two smaller ones closed, 1 and let his face 
be animated and turned towards the people, with mouth 
slightly opened, so as to give the effect of speaking. 
And if he is seated let him seem to be in the act of 
raising himself more upright, with his head forward ; 
and if you represent him standing, make him leaning 
forward 3. little with head and shoulders towards the 

* MS. has 'serate.' M. Ravaisson-Mollien gives searate/ and translate* 
as though it were ' separate/ 


populace, whom you should show silent and attentive, 
and all watching the face of the orator with gestures 
of admiration. Show the mouths of some of the old 
men with the corners pulled down in astonishment at 
what they hear, drawing back the cheeks in many 
furrows, with their eyebrows raised where they meet, 
making many wrinkles on their foreheads; and show 
some sitting with the fingers of their hands locked 
together and clasping their weary knees, and others 
decrepit old men with one knee crossed over the other, 
and one hand resting upon it which serves as a cup 
for the other elbow, while the other hand supports the 
bearded chin. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 21 r.) 

One who was drinking has left the glass where it was 
and turned his head towards the speaker. Another 
twists the- fingers of his hands together and turns with 
set brows to his companion. Another with his hands 
spread open displays their palms and shrugs his shoulders 
up towards his ears and gapes in astonishment. Another 
is speaking in his neighbour's ear, and he who listens 
turns towards him and gives him hearing, holding in 
one hand a knife, and in the other the bread half cut 
through by the knife. Another, as he turns round 
holding a knife in his hand, has upset with his hand a 
glass which is upon the table. 

Another rests his hands upon the table and watches. 
Another blows out his mouth. Another bends forward 
to see the speaker and makes a shade for his eyes with 
-his hand. Another leans back behind the one who is 


bending forward, and sees the speaker between the wall 

and him who bends forward. 

(S. K. Af. ., 62 v. and 63 r.) 


If you wish to represent a tempest properly, consider 
and set down exactly what are the results when the wind 
blowing over the face of the sea and of the land lifts and 
carries with it everything that is not immovable in the 
general mass. And in order properly to represent this 
tempest, you must first of all show the clouds, riven and 
torn, swept along in the path of the wind, together with 
storms of sand blown up from the sea shores, and 
branches and leaves caught up by the irresistible fury 
of the gale and scattered through the air, and with them 
many other things of light weight. The trees and shrubs 
should be bent to the ground, as though showing their 
desire to follow the direction of the wind, with their 
branches twisted out of their natural growth and their 
leaves tossed and inverted. Of the men who are there, 
some should have fallen and be lying wrapped round by 
their garments and almost indistinguishable on account of 
the dust, and those who are left standing should be behind 
some tree with their arms thrown round it to prevent 
the wind from dragging them away ; others should be 
shown crouching on the ground, their hands over their 
eyes because of the dust, their garments and hair stream- 
ing in the wind* Let the sea be wild and tempestuous, and 
between the crests of its waves it should be covered with 
eddying foam, and the wind should carry the finer spray 
through the stormy air after the manner of a thick and 


all-enveloping mist. Of the ships that are there, some 
you should show with sail rent and the shreds of it 
flapping in the air in company with the broken halyards, 
and some of the masts broken and gone by the board, 
and the vessel itself lying disabled and broken by the 
fury of the waves, with some of the crew shrieking and 
clinging to the fragments of the wreck. You should 
show the clouds, driven by the impetuous winds, hurled 
against the high mountain tops, and there wreathing 
and eddying like waves that beat upon the rocks ; the 
very air should strike terror through the murky darkness 
occasioned therein by the dust and mist and thick clouds. 

(MS. 2038, Bib* Nat. 21 r.) 


Show first the smoke of the artillery mingled in the 
air with the dust stirred up by the movement of the 
horses and of the combatants. This process you should 
express as follows : the dust, since it is made up of earth 
and has weight, although by reason of its fineness it may 
easily rise and mingle with the air, will nevertheless 
readily fall down again, and the greatest height will be 
attained by such part of it as is the finest, and this will 
in consequence be the least visible and will seem almost 
the colour of the air itself. 

The smoke which is mingled with the dust-laden air 
will as it rises to a certain height have more and more 
the appearance of a dark cloud, at the summit of which 
the smoke will be more distinctly visible than the dust. 
The smoke will assume a bluish tinge, and the dust will 


keep its natural colour. From the side whence the 
light comes this mixture of air and smoke and dust will 
seem far brighter than on the opposite side. 

As for the combatants, the more they are in the midst 
of this turmoil the less they will be visible, and the less 
will be the contrast between their lights and shadows. 

You should give a ruddy glow to the faces and the figures 
and the air around them, and to the gunners and those near 
to them, and this glow should grow fainter as it is further 
away from its cause- The figures which are between 
you and the light, if far away, will appear dark against 
a light background, and the nearer their limbs are to the 
ground the less will they be visible, for there the dust is 
greater and thicker. And if you make horses galloping 
away from tjie throng make little clouds of dust as far 
distant one from another as is the space between the 
strides made by the horse, and that cloud which is further 
away from the horse should be the least visible, for it 
should be high and spread out and thin, while that which 
'is nearer should be more conspicuous and smaller and 
more compact. 

Let the air be full of arrows going in various direc- 
tions, some mounting upwards, others falling, others 
flying horizontally, and let the balls shot from the guns 
have a train of smoke following their course. Show the 
figures in the foreground covered with dust on their 
hair and eyebrows and such other level parts as afford 
the dust a space to lodge. 

Make the conquerors running, with their hair and 
Other light things streaming in the wind, and with brows 
bent down ; and they should be thrusting forward 


opposite limbs, that is, if a man advances the right foot 
the left arm should also come forward. If you represent 
any one fallen you should show the mark where he has 
been dragged through the dust, which has become 
changed to blood-stained mire, and round about in the 
half-liquid earth you should show the marks of the 
tramping of men and horses who have passed over it. 
Make a horse dragging the dead body of his master, and 
leaving behind him in the dust and mud the track of 
where the body was dragged along. 

Make the beaten and conquered pallid, with brows 
raised and knit together, and let the skin above the 
brows be all full of lines of pain ; at the sides of the 
nose show the furrows going in an arch from the nostrils 
and ending where the eye begins, and show the dilation 
of the nostrils which is the cause of these lines ; and let 
the lips be arched displaying the upper row of teeth, 
and let the teeth be parted after the manner of such as 
cry in lamentation. Show some one using his hand as 
a shield for his terrified eyes, turning the palm of it 
towards the enemy, and having the other resting on the 
ground to support the weight of his body ; let others be 
crying out with their mouths wide open, and fleeing 
away. Put all sorts of arms lying between the feet of 
the combatants, such as broken shields, lances, broken 
swords, and other things like these* Make the dead, 
some half buried in dust, others with the dust all mingled 
with the oozing blood and changing into crimson mud ; 
and let the line of the blood be discerned by its colour, 
flowing in a sinuous stream from the corpse to the dust. 
Show others in the death agony grinding their teeth and 


rolling their eyes, with clenched fists grinding against 
their bodies, and with legs distorted. Then you might 
show one, disarmed and struck down by the enemy, 
turning on him with teeth and nails to take fierce and 
inhuman vengeance ; and let a riderless horse be seen 
galloping with mane streaming in the wind, charging 
among the enemy and doing them great mischief with 
his heels. You may see there one of the combatants 
maimed and fallen on the ground protecting himself with 
his shield, and the enemy bending down over him and 
striving to give him the fatal stroke ; there might also 
be seen many men fallen in a heap on top of a dead 
horse ; and you should show some of the victors leaving 
the combat and retiring apart from the crowd, and with 
both hands wiping away from eyes and cheeks the thick 
layer of mud caused by the smarting of their eyes from 
the dust. 1 And the squadrons of the reserves should be 
seen standing full of hope but cautious, with eyebrows 
raised, and shading their eyes with their hands, peering 
into the thick, heavy mist in readiness for the commands 
of their captain ; and so too the captain with his staff 
raised, hurrying to the reserves and pointing out to them 
the quarter of the field where they are needed ; and you 
should show a river, within which horses are galloping, 
stirring the water all around with a heaving mass of 
waves and foam and broken water, leaping high into the 
air and over the legs and bodies of the horses ; but see 
that you make no level spot of ground that is not 
trampled over with blood. 

(MS. 2038, JBib. Nat. 31 r. and 30 v.) 
1 MS. has 'per lamor della polvere.* 



The air was dark from the heavy rain which was 
falling slantwise bent by the cross current of the winds 
and formed itself in waves in the air, like those one sees 
formed by the dust, the only difference being that these 
drifts were furrowed by the lines made by the drops of 
the falling water. It was tinged by the colour of 
the fire produced by the thunderbolts wherewith the 
clouds were rent and torn asunder, the flashes from 
which smote and tore open the vast waters of the flooded 
valleys, and as these lay open there were revealed in their 
depths * the bowed summits of the trees. 

Neptune might be seen with his trident in the midst 
of the waters, and Eolus with his winds should be shown 
entangling the floating trees which had been uprooted 
and were mingled with the mighty waves. 

The horizon and the whole firmament was overcast and 
lurid with the flashings of the incessant lightning. Men 
and birds might be seen crowded together upon the tall 
trees which over-topped the swollen waters forming hills 
which surround the great abysses. (G 6 v.) 


Let the dark, gloomy air be seen beaten by the rush 
of opposing winds wreathed in perpetual rain mingled 
with hail, 2 and bearing hither and thither a vast network 

1 Dr. Richter reads *vertici/ I have followed M. Ravaisson-Mollicn in 
reading * ventri, ' The MS. has vertri. ' 
* MS. * gravza/ I have followed Dr. Richter's wggestion 'gragnuola/ 


of the torn branches of trees mixed together with an 
infinite number of leaves. All around let there be seen 
ancient trees uprooted and torn in pieces by the fury 
of the winds. You should show how fragments of 
mountains which have been already stripped bare by the 
rushing torrents fall headlong into these very torrents 
and choke up the valleys, until the pent-up rivers rise in 
flood and cover the wide plains and their inhabitants. 
Again there might be seen huddled together on the tops 
of many of the mountains many different sorts of animals, 
terrified and subdued at last to a state of tameness, in 
company with men and women who had fled there with 
their children. And the fields which were covered with 
water had their waves covered over in great part with 
tables, bedsteads, boats and various other kinds of rafts 
improvised through necessity and fear of death, upon 
which were men and women with their children, massed 
together and uttering various cries and lamentations, 
dismayed by the fury of the winds which were causing 
the waters to roll over and over in mighty hurricane, 
bearing with them the bodies of the drowned ; and there 
was no object that floated on the water but was covered 
with various different animals who had made truce and 
stood huddled together in terror, among them being 
wolves, foxes, snakes, and creatures of every kind, 
fugitives from death. And all the waves that beat 
against their sides were striking them with repeated 
blows from the various bodies of the drowned, and the 
blows were killing those in whom life remained. 

Some groups of men you might have seen with arms in 
their hands defending the tiny footholds that remained to 


them from the lions and wolves and beasts of prey 
which sought safety there. Ah, what dreadful tumults 
one heard resounding through the gloomy air, smitten by 
the fury of the thunder and the lightning it flashed forth, 
which sped through it, bearing ruin, striking down 
whatever withstood its course ! Ah, how many might 
you have seen stopping their ears with their hands in 
order to shut out the loud uproar caused through the 
darkened air by the fury of the winds mingled together 
with the rain, the thunder of the heavens and the raging 
of the thunderbolts ! Others were not content to shut 
their eyes, but placing their hands over them, one above 
the other, would cover them more tightly in order not 
to see the pitiless slaughter made of the human race by 
the wrath of God. 

Ah me, how many lamentations ! How many in their 
terror flung themselves down from the rocks 1 You 
might have seen huge branches of the giant oaks laden 
with men borne along through the air by the fury of the 
impetuous winds. How many boats were capsized and 
lying, some whole, others broken in pieces, on the top 
of men struggling to escape with acts and gestures of 
despair which foretold an awful death* Others with 
frenzied acts were taking their own lives, in despair of ever 
being able to endure such anguish ; some of these were 
flinging themselves down from the lofty rocks, others 
strangled themselves with their own hands ; some seized 
hold of their own children, and with mighty violence 1 
slew them at one blow ; some turned their arms against 

1 MS. Vnpeto * impeto.' Richter reads MS. as rapito,' and gives in text 


themselves to wound and slay ; others falling upon their 
knees were commending themselves to God. 

Alas, how many mothers were bewailing their drowned 
sons, holding them upon their knees, lifting up open 
arms to heaven, and with divers cries and shrieks 
declaiming against the anger of the gods ! Others with 
hands denched and fingers locked together gnawed and 
devoured them with bites that ran blood, crouching down 
so that their breasts touched their knees in their intense 
and intolerable agony. 

Herds of animals, such as horses, oxen, goats, sheep, 
were to be seen already hemmed in by the waters and left 
isolated upon the high peaks of the mountains, all huddling 
together, and those in the middle climbing to the top and 
treading on the others, and waging fierce battles with 
each other, and many of them dying from want of food. 

And the birds had already begun to settle upon men 
and other animals, no longer finding any land left 
unsubmerged which was not covered with living creatures. 
Already had hunger the minister of death taken away 
their life from the greater number of the animals, when 
the dead bodies already becoming lighter began to rise 
from out the bottom of the deep waters and emerged to 
the surface among the contending waves ; and there lay 
beating one against another, and as balls puffed up with 
wind rebound back from the spot where they strike, these 
fell back and lay upon the other dead bodies. And 
above these horrors the atmosphere was seen covered 
with murky clouds that were rent by the jagged course 
of the raging thunderbolts of heaven which flashed light 
hither and thither amid the obscurity of the darkness. 


The velocity of the air is seen by the movement of 
the dust stirred by the running of a horse ; and it moves 
as swiftly to fill up the void left in the air which had 
enclosed the horse as is the speed of the horse in passing 
away from the aforesaid space of air. 

But it will perhaps seem to you that you have cause 
to censure me for having represented the different 
courses taken in the air by the movement of the wind, 
whereas the wind is not of itself visible in the air ; to this 
I reply that it is not the movement of the wind itself 
but the movement of the things carried by it which 
alone is visible in the air. 


Darkness, wind, tempest at sea ; deluge of water, 
woods on fire, rain, thunderbolts from the sky, earth- 
quakes and destruction of mountains, levelling of 

Whirlwinds which carry water and branches of trees 
and men through the air. 

Branches torn away by the winds crashing together 
at the meeting of the winds, with people on the top of 

Trees broken off laden with people. 

Ships broken in pieces dashed upon the rocks. 

Hail, thunderbolts, whirlwinds* 

Herds of cattle* 

People on trees which cannot bear them: trees and 
rocks,* towers, hills crowded with people, boats, tables, 


troughs and other contrivances for floating, hills 
covered with men and women and animals, with light- 
nings from the clouds which illumine the whole scene. 
(Windsor MSS. ttudts et dessins sur ? atmosphere [Rouveyrc] 17 *.) 


First of all let there be represented the summit of a 
rugged mountain with certain of the valleys that sur- 
round its base, and on its sides let the surface of the 
soil be seen slipping down together with the tiny roots 
of the small shrubs, and leaving bare a great part of the 
surrounding rocks. Sweeping down in devastation from 
these precipices, let it pursue its headlong course, striking 
and laying bare the twisted and gnarled roots of the 
great trees and overturning them in ruin. And the 
mountains becoming bare should reveal the deep fissures 
made in them by the ancient earthquakes ; and let the 
bases of the mountains be in great part covered over 
and clad with the debris of the shrubs which have fallen 
headlong from the sides of the lofty peaks of the said 
mountains, and let these be mingled together with mud, 
roots, branches of trees, with various kinds of leaves 
thrust in among the mud and earth and stones. And 
let the fragments of some of the mountains have fallen 
down into the depth of one. of the valleys, and there form 
a barrier to the swollen waters of its river, which having 
already burst the barrier rushes on with immense waves, 
the greatest of which are striking and laying in ruin the 
walls of the cities and farms of the valley. And from 
the ruins of the lofty buildings of the aforesaid cities let 
there rise a great quantity of d'ust mounting up in the 


air with the appearance of smoke or of wreathed clouds 
that battle against the descending rain. 

But the swollen waters should be coursing round the 
pool which confines them, and striking against various 
obstacles with whirling eddies, leaping up into the air 
in turbid foam, and then falling back and causing the 
water where they strike to be dashed up into the air ; 
and the circling waves which recede from the point of 
contact are impelled by their impetus right across the 
course of the other circling waves which move in an 
opposite direction to them, and after striking against 
these they leap up into the air without becoming de- 
tached from their base. And where the water issues 
forth from the said pool, the spent waves are seen 
spreading out towards the outlet ; after which, falling or 
descending through the air, this water acquires weight 
and impetus ; and then piercing the water where it strikes, 
it tears it apart and dives down in fury to reach its 
depth, and then recoiling it springs back again towards 
the surface of the lake accompanied by the air which has 
been submerged with it, and this remains in the slimy 
foam 1 mingled with the driftwood and other things 
lighter than the water, and around these again are formed 
the beginnings of the waves, which increase the more in 
circumference as they acquire more movement ; and this 
movement makes them lower in proportion as they 
acquire a wider base, and therefore they become almost 
imperceptible as they die away. But if the waves re- 
bound against various obstacles then they leap back and 

1 Richter's transcript ( 609) is*vissci cholla"* and he reads *nella usdta 
colla sciuma.* The MS. has I think 'visscichosa,* which I have taken as a 
variant of * vischiosa.* 


oppose the approach of the other waves, following the 
same law of development in their curve as they have 
already shown in their original movement. The rain as 
it falls from the clouds is of the same colour as these 
clouds, that is on its shaded side, unless, however, the 
rays of the sun should penetrate there, for if this were 
so the rain would appear less dark than the cloud. And 
if the great masses of the debris of huge mountains or 
of large buildings strike in their fall the mighty lakes of 
the waters, then a vast quantity of water will rebound 
in the air, and its course will be in an opposite direction 
to that of the substance which struck the water, that is to 
say the angle of reflection will be equal to the angle of 

Of the objects borne along by the current of the 
waters that will be at a greater distance from the two 
opposite banks which is heavier or of larger bulk. The 
eddies of the waters revolve most swiftly in those parts 
which are nearest to their centre. The crests of the 
waves of the sea fall forward to their base, beating and 
rubbing themselves against the smooth particles which 
form their face ; and by this friction the water as it falls 
is ground up in tiny particles, 1 and becomes changed to 
thick mist and is mingled in the currents of the winds 
in the manner of wreathing smoke or winding clouds, 
and at last rises up in the air and becomes changed into 
clouds. But the rain which falls through the air being 
beaten upon and driven by the current of the winds 
becomes rare or dense according to the rarity or density 
of these winds, and by this means there is produced 

1 MS. ' e ttal confrcghatione trita in minute partichule la dissciente acqua.' 


throughout the air a flood of transparent clouds which 
Is formed by the aforesaid rain and becomes visible in it 
by means of the lines made by the fail of the rain which 
io near to the eye of the spectator. 1 The waves of the 
sea that beats against the shelving base of the mountains 
which confine it, rush 2 foaming in speed up to the ridge 
of these same hills, and in turning back meet the onset 
of the succeeding wave, and after loud roaring return in 
a mighty flood to the sea from whence they came. A 
great number of the inhabitants, men and different 
animals, may be seen driven by the rising of the deluge 
up towards the summits of the hills which border on 
the said waters. 

Waves of the sea at Piombino all of foaming water. 

Of the water that leaps up (of the place where the 
great masses fall and strike the waters) 3 of the winds 
of Piombino. 

Eddies of winds and of rain with branches and trees 
mingled with the air. 

The emptying the boats of the rain water. 

(Windsor MSS. Studes et dessins sur ? atmosphere [Rouveyre] 17 r.) 

* MS. ce p(er) qucssto si gienera infrallaria vna innondatione di tnstpareti 
mi<voli la quale effacta datta p(f)edctta pioggia e tnquassta si fa mamfessta 
mediante i liw&meti fatti dal disscieso dclla pioggia Che e vicina a]] ochio chc 
la vede.* The words printed in Italics are wanting in the text as given by 
Dr. Richter ( 669). 

* Dr. Richter reads 'saranno* (for MS. 'sarrano'), but text is I think 
* scorrano/ presumably for ' scorrono.* 

3 The sentence within brackets is crossed through in the MS. 



Among the various studies of natural processes that of 
light gives most pleasure to those who contemplate it ; 
and among the noteworthy characteristics of mathema- 
tical science the certainty of its demonstrations is what 
operates most powerfully to elevate the minds of its 
investigators. Perspective therefore is to be preferred 
to all the formularies and systems of the schoolmen, for 
in its province the complex beam of light is made to 
show the stages of its development, wherein is found 
the glory not only of mathematical but also of physical 
science > adorned as it is with the flowers of both* And 
whereas its propositions have been expanded with much 
circumlocution I will epitomise them with conclusive 
brevity, introducing, however, illustrations drawn either 
from nature or from mathematical science according to 
the nature of the subject, and sometimes deducing the 
results from the causes and at other times the causes 
from the results ; adding also to my conclusions some 
which are not contained -in these, but which {nevertheless 
are to be inferred from them ; even as the Lord who is 
tfte Light of all things shall vouchsafe to reveal to me 
who seek to interpret this light, and consequently I 

will divide the present work into three parts. 

(C. A. 203 r. a.) 



Consider now, O Reader, what trust can we place in 
the ancients who have set out to define the nature of the 
soul and of life, things incapable of proof, whilst 


those things which by experience may always be clearly 
known and proved have for so many centuries either 
remained unknown or have been wrongly interpreted. 

The eye which thus clearly offers proof of its func- 
tions has even down to our own times been defined by 
countless writers in one way, but I find by experience 
that it acts in another. (C. A.n^v. a.) 

Perspective is the bridle and rudder of painting. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 13 r.) 

Perspective is a rational demonstration whereby ex- 
perience confirms how all things transmit their images to 
the eye by pyramidal lines. By pyramidal lines I mean 
those which start from the extremities of the surface of 
bodies and by gradually converging from a distance 
arrive at the same point ; the said point being, as I shall 
show, in this i particular case located in the eye, which is 
the universal judge of all objects. I call a point that 
which cannot be divided up into any parts ; and as this 
point which is situated in the eye is indivisible no body 
can be seen by the eye which is not greater than this 
point, and this being the case it is necessary that the 
lines which extend from the object to the point should 
be pyramidal. And if any one should wish to prove 
that the faculty of sight does not belong to this point 
but rather to that black spot which is seen in the centre 
of the pupil, one might reply to him that a small object 
never could diminish at any distance, as for example a 
grain of millet or panic-seed or other similar thing, 'and 
that this thing which was greater than the said point 
could never be entirely seen. (A. 10 r.) 


The body of the atmosphere is full of an infinite 
number of the pyramids composed of radiating straight 
lines which are caused by the boundaries of the surfaces 
of the bodies in shadow that are found there, and the 
further they are away from the object which produces 
them the more their angle becomes acute. And al- 
though they intersect and interlace in their passage, 
nevertheless they do not become confused with each 
other but proceed with divergent course, spreading them- 
selves out and becoming diffused through all the sur- 
rounding air* And they are of equal power among 
themselves, all equal to each, and each equal to all, and 
by means of them are transmitted the images of the 
objects, and these are transmitted all in all, and all in 
each part ; and each pyramid receives of itself in each of 
its smallest parts the whole form of the object which 
produces it. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 6 >.) 


Those who are enamoured of practice without science 
are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or 
compass and never has any certainty where he is going. 

Practice should always be based upon a sound know- 
ledge of theory, of which perspective is the guide and 
gateway, and without it nothing can be done well in any 
kind of painting, (G S r.) 


Of things of equal size that which is further away 
from the eye will appear of less bulk. ($. K. M. //. 15 *.) 


(Riibus Fruttcosus) 

Fact p. 211 



Linear perspective has to do with the function of the 
lines of sight, proving by measurement how much 
smaller is the second object than the first and the third 
than the second, and so on continually until the limit of 
things seen. I find by experience that -if the second 
object is as far distant from the first as the first is from 
your eye, although as between themselves they may be 
of equal size, the second will seem half as small again as 
the first ; and if the third object is equal in size to the 
second, and it is as far -beyond the second as the second 
is from the first, 1 it will appear half the size of the 
second ; and thus by successive degrees at equal dis- 
tances the objects will be continually lessened by half, 
the second being half the first, provided that the inter- 
vening space does not amount to as much as twenty 
braccia ; for at the distance of twenty braccia a figure 
resembling yours will lose four-fifths of its size, and at 
a distance of forty braccia it will lose nine-tenths, and 
nineteen-twentieths at sixty braccia, and so by degrees 
it will continue to diminish when the plane of the picture 
is twice your own height away from you, for if the dis- 
tance only equals your own height there is a great differ- 
ence between the first braccia and the second. 

(MS. 2038, Bil>. Nat. 23 r.) 


There is another kind of perspective which I call 
aerial, because by the difference in the atmosphere one 

i MS. has 'third/ 


is able to distinguish the various distances of different 
buildings when their bases appear to end on a single line, 
for this would be the appearance presented by a group 
of buildings on the far side of a wall, all of which as 
seen above the top of the wall look to be the same size ; 
and if in painting you wish to make one seem further 
away than another you must make the atmosphere some- 
what heavy. You know that in an atmosphere of uni- 
form density the most distant things seen through it, 
such as the mountains, in consequence of the great 
quantity of atmosphere which is between your eye and 
them, will appear blue, almost of the same colour as the 
atmosphere when the sun is in the east. Therefore you 
should make the building which is nearest above the 
wall of its natural colour, and that which is more dis- 
tant make less defined and bluer ; and one which you 
wish should seem as far away again make of double the 
depth of blue, and one you desire should seem five times 
as far away make five times as blue. And as a conse- 
quence of this rule it will come about that the buildings 
which above a given line appear to be of the same size 
will be pkinly distinguished as to which are the more 
distant and which larger than the others. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 25 *>.) 


An object of uniform thickness and colour seen 
against a background of various colours will appear not 
to be of uniform thickness. 

And if an object of uniform thickness and of various 


colours is seen against a background of uniform colour 
the object will seem of a varying thickness. 

And in proportion as the colours of the background, 
or of the object seen against the background, have more 
variety, the more will their thickness seem to vary, 
although the objects seen against the background may 
be of equal thickness. (/ 17 ?.) 

A dark object seen against a light background will 
seem smaller than it is. 

A light object will appear greater in size when it is 
seen against a background that is darker in colour. 



If the true outlines of opaque bodies become indistin- 
guishable at any short distance they will be still more in- 
visible at great distances ; and since it is by the outlines 
that the true shape of each opaque body becomes known, 
whenever because of distance we lack the perception of 
the whole we shall lack yet more the perception of its 
parts and outlines. (j? 80 r.) 


The first requisite of painting is that the bodies which 
it represents should appear in relief, and that the scenes 
which surround them with effects of distance should 
seem to enter into the plane in which the picture is 
produced by means of the three parts of perspective, 
namely the diminution in the distinctness of the form of 
bodies, the diminution in their size, and the diminution 


in their colour. Of these three divisions of perspective 
the first has its origin in the eye, the two others are 
derived from the atmosphere that is interposed between 
the eye and the objects which the eye beholds. 

The second requisite of painting is that the actions 
should be appropriate and have a variety in the figures 
so that the men may not all look as though they were 
brothers. * (79 *) 


The air is full of an infinite number of images of the 
things which are distributed through it, and all of these 
are represented in all, all in one, and all in each. Con- 
sequently it so happens that if two mirrors be placed 
so as to be exactly facing each other, the first will be 
reflected in the second and the second in the first. Now 
the first being reflected in the second carries to it its 
own image together with all the images which are re- 
presented in it, among these being the image of the 
second mirror ; and so they continue from image to 
image on to infinity, in such a way that each mirror 
has an infinite number of mirrors within it, each smaller 
than the kst, and one inside another. 

By this example, therefore, it is clearly proved that 
each thing transmits the image of [itself] to all those 
places where the thing itself is visible, and so conversely 
this object is able to receive into itself all the images of 
the things which are in front of it. 

Consequently the eye transmits its own image through 
the air to all the objects which are in front of it, and 
receives them into itself, that is on its surface, whence 


the understanding takes them and considers them, and 
such as it finds pleasing these it commits to the memory. 

So I hold that the invisible powers of the images in 
the eyes may project themselves forth to the object as 
do the images of the object to the eye. 

An instance of how the images of all things are 
spread thrpugh the air may be seen in a number of 
mirrors placed in a circle, and they will then reflect each 
other for an infinite number of times, for as the image 
of one reaches another it rebounds back to its source, 
and then becoming less rebounds yet again to the ob- 
ject, and then returns, and so continues for an infinite 
number of times. 

If at night you place a light between two flat mirrors 
which are a cubit's space apart, you will see in each of 
these mirrors an infinite number of lights one smaller 
than another in succession. 

If at night you place a light between the walls of a 
[room], every part of these walls will become tinged by 
the images of this light, and all those parts which are 
exposed to the light will likewise be directly lit by it ; 
that is when there is no obstacle between them to inter- 
rupt the transmission of the images. 

This same example is even more apparent in the 
transmission of solar rays, which all i[pass] through all 
objects, and consequently into each minutest part of 
each object, and each ray of itself conveys to its object 
the image of its source. 

That each body alone of itself fills the whole sur- 
rounding air with its images, and that this same air is 
[able] at the same time to receive into itself the images 


of the countless other bodies which are within it is 
clearly shown by these instances, and each body is seen 
in its entirety throughout the whole of the said atmo- 
sphere and each in each minutest part of the same, and 
all throughout the whole of it and all in each minutest 
part ; each in all, and all in every part. (C. A. 138 r. ^.) 


There are three divisions of perspective as employed 
in painting. Of these the first relates to the diminution 
in the volume of opaque bodies ; the second treats of 
the diminution and disappearance of the outlines of 
these opaque bodies ; the third is of their diminution 
and loss of colour when at a great distance. 


Among opaque bodies of equal magnitude the 
diminution apparent in their size will vary according 
to their distance from the eye which sees them ; but it 
will be in inverse proportion, for at the greater distance 
the opaque body appears less, and at a less distance 
this body will appear greater, and on this is founded 
linear perspective. And show secondly how every 
object at a great distance loses first that portion of 
itself which is the thinnest. Thus with a horse, it 
would lose the legs sooner than the head because the 
legs are thinner than the head, and it would lose the 
neck before the trunk for the same reason. It follows 


therefore that the part of the horse which the eye 
will be able last to discern will be the trunk, retaining 
still its oval form, but rather approximating to the shape 
'of a cylinder, and it will lose its thickness sooner than its 
length from the second conclusion aforesaid. If the eye 
is immovable the perspective terminates its distance in 
a point ; but if the eye moves in a straight line the 
perspective ends in a line, because it is proved that 
the line is produced by the movement of the point, 
and our sight is fixed upon the point, and consequently 
it follows that as the sight moves the point moves, and 
as the point moves the line is produced. (E So v.) 

In every figure placed at a great distance you lose 
first the knowledge of its most minute parts and preserve 
to the last that of the larger parts, losing, however, 
the perception of all their extremities, and'they become 
oval or spherical in shape, and their boundaries are 
indistinct. (G 53 v.) 

Having, as I think, sufficiently treated of the natures 
and different characteristics of primary and derived 
shadows and the manner of their incidence, it seems 
to me that the time has now come to explain the 
different results upon the various surfaces which are 
touched by these shadows. 


It seems to me that the shadows are of supreme 
importance in perspective, seeing that without them 
opaque and solid bodies will be indistinct, both as to 


what lies within their boundaries and also as to their 
boundaries themselves, unless these are seen against a 
background differing in colour ro that of the substance ; 
and consequently in the first proposition I treat of 
shadows, and say in this connection that every opaque 
body is surrounded and has its surface clothed with, 
shadows and lights, and to this 1 devote the first book. 
Moreover these shadows are in themselves of varying 
degrees of darkness because they are caused by the 
absence of a variable quantity of luminous rays ; and 
these I call primary shadows, because they are the first 
shadows and so form a covering to the bodies to which 
they attach themselves, and to this I shall devote the 
second book. From these primary shadows there issue 
certain dark rays which are diffused throughout the air 
and vary in intensity according to the varieties of the 
primary shadows from which they are derived ; and con- 
sequently I call these shadows derived shadows, because 
they have their origin in other shadows ; and of this I 
will make the third book. Moreover these derived 
shadows in striking upon anything create as many 
different effects as are the different places where they 
strike ; and of this I will make the fourth book. And 
since where the derived shadow strikes, it is always 
surrounded by the striking of the luminous rays, it 
leaps back with these in a reflex stream towards its 
source and meets the primary shadow, and mingles with 
and becomes changed into it, altering thereby somewhat 
of its nature ; and to this I will devote the fifth book. 
In addition to this I will make the sixth book to contain 
an investigation of the many different varieties of the 


rebound of the reflected rays which will modif) the 
primary shadow by as many different colours as there 
are different points from whence these luminous reflected 
rays proceed. Further, I will make the seventh division 
treat of the various distances that may exist between the 
point of striking of each reflected ray and the point from 
whence it proceeds, and of the various different shades 
of colour which it acquires in striking against opaque 
bodies. (C. A. 250, r. a.) 


Shadows and lights are observed by the eye under 
three aspects. One of these is when the eye and the 
light are both on the same side of the body which is 
seen ; the second is when the eye is in front of the 
object and the light behind it ; and the third is that in 
which the eye is in front of the object and the light at 
the side, in such a way that when the line which extends 
from the object to the eye meets that which extends 
from the object to the light, they will at their junction 1 
form a right angle. (K 105 [25] v.) 


Where the shadow is bounded by light, note carefully 
where it is lighter or darker, and where it is more or 
less indistinct towards the light ; and above all I would 
remind you that in youthful figures you should not 
make the shadows end like stone, for the flesh retains 
a slight transparency, as may be observed by looking at 

1 MS* cOgtttiO, and so Dr. Richter. M. Ravaisson-Mollien has ' cognition/ 


a hand held between the eye and the sun, when it is 
seen to flush red and to be of a luminous transparency. 
And let the part which is brightest in colour be between 
the lights and the shadows. And if you wish to see 
what depth of shadow is needed for the flesh, cast a 
shadow over it with your finger, and according as you 
wish it to be lighter or darker, hold your finger nearer 
or farther away from the picture, and then copy this 
shadow. (MS. 2038, Bit. Nat. 31 *.) 


I say that when objects appear of minute size, it is 
due to the said objects being at a distance from the 
eye ; and when this is the case, there must of necessity 
be a considerable quantity of atmosphere between the 
eye and the object, and this atmosphere interferes 
with the distinctness of the form of the objects, and 
consequently the minute details of these bodies will 
become indistinguishable and unrecognisable. There- 
fore, O painter, you should make your lesser figures 
only suggested, and not highly finished ; for if you 
do otherwise, you will produce effects contrary to those 
of nature, your mistress. 

The object is small because of the great space which 
exists between the eye and it. This great space contains 
within itself a great quantity of atmosphere ; and this 
atmosphere forms of itself a dense body which interposes 
and shuts out from the eye the minute details of the 
objects. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 31 *.) 



Among shadows of equal strength that which is 
nearest to the eye will seem of least density. 

(MS. 2038. Btt. Nat. 9 v.) 

The derived shadow is stronger in proportion as it is 
nearer to its source. (K in [31] p.) 

Primary and derived shadow is deeper when it is caused 
by the light of the candle than by that of the atmosphere. 

(7r. Tav. 24 a.) 

Shadows which you see with difficulty, and whose 
boundaries you cannot define, but which you only 
apprehend and reproduce in your work with some hesi- 
tation of judgment these you should not represent as 
finished or sharply defined, for the result would be that 
your work would seem wooden. (MS. 2038, Bil>. Nat. 14 .) 


We see clearly that all the images of the visible things 
both large and small which serve us as objects enter to 
the sense through the tiny pupil of the eye. If, then, 
through so small an entrance there passes the image 
of the immensity of the sky and of the earth, the face 
of man being almost nothing amid such vast images 
of things, because of the distance which diminishes it 
occupies so little of the pupil as to remain indistinguish- 
able ; and having to pass from the outer surface to 
the seat of the sense through a dark medium, that is, 


through the hollow cells which appear dark, this image 
when not of a strong colour is affected by the darkness 
through which it passes, and on reaching the seat of the 
sense it appears dark. No other reason can be advanced 
to account for the blackness of this point in the pupil ; 
and since it is filled with a moisture transparent like the 
air, it acts like a hole made in a board ; and when looked 
into it appears black, and the objects seen in the air, 
whether light or dark, become indistinct in the darkness. 


Shadows become lost in the far distance, because the 
vast expanse of luminous atmosphere which lies between 
the eye and the object seen suffuses the shadows of the 
object with its own colour. 


Diminishing perspective shows us that in proportion 
as an object is further away the smaller it becomes* And 
if you look at a man who is at the distance of a bowshot 
away from you and put the eye of a small needle close 
to your eye you will be able through this to see the 
images of many men transmitted to the eye, and these 
will all be contained at one and the same time within 
the eye of the said needle. If then the image of a man 
who is distant from you the space of a bowshot is so 
transmitted to your eye as to occupy only a small part 
of the eye of a needle, how should you be able in so 
small a figure to distinguish or discern the nose or 


mouth or any detail of the body? And not seeing 
these you cannot recognise the man since he does not 
show you the features which cause men to differ in 
appearance. (MS. 2038, JW. Nat. 20 v.) 


The true knowledge of the form of an object becomes 
gradually lost in proportion as distance decreases its 
size. (C. A. 176 v. &) 


This proposition is not so easy to expound as many 
others, but I will nevertheless attempt to prove it, if 
not completely, then in part. Diminishing perspective 
demonstrates by reason that objects diminish in propor- 
tion as they are farther away from the eye, and this 
theory is entirely confirmed by experience. Now the 
lines of sight which are between the object and the eye 
when they reach the surface of the painting are all 
intersected at a uniform boundary ;, while the lines which 
pass from the eye to the piece of sculpture have different 
boundaries and are of varying lengths. The line which 
is the longest extends to a limb which is farther away 
than the rest, and consequently this limb appears 
smaller ; and there are many lines longer than others, 
for the reason that there are many small parts one 
farther away than another, and being farther away these 
of necessity appear smaller, and by appearing smaller 
they effect a corresponding decrease in the whole mass 


of the object. But this does not happen in the painting, 
because as the lines of sight end at the same distance it 
follows that they do not undergo diminution, and as the 
parts are not themselves diminished they do not lessen 
the whole mass of the object, and consequently the 
diminution is not perceptible in the painting as it is in 
sculpture. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 19 r.) 


Reflections are caused by bodies of a bright nature 
and of a smooth and half opaque surface, which when 
struck by the light drive it back again to the first object 
like the rebound of a ball. 


All solid bodies have their surfaces covered by various 
degrees of light and shadow. The lights are of two 
kinds; the one is called original, the other derived. 
Original I call that which proceeds from the flame of the 
fire, or from the light of the sun, or of the atmosphere. 
Derived light is the light reflected. But to return to 
the promised definition I say that there is no luminous 
reflection on the side of the body which is turned 
towards objects in shadow such as shaded scenes, 
meadows with grasses of varying height, green or bare 
woods for these, although the part of each branch 
turned to the original light is imbued with the attributes 
of this light, have nevertheless so many shadows cast by 
each branch separately, and so many shadows cast by one 
branch on another that in the whole mass there results 


such a depth of shadow that the light is as nothing ; 
hence objects such as these cannot throw any reflected 

light upon bodies opposite to them. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 14 p.) 

That place will be most luminous which is farthest 
away from mountains. (H 68 [20] r.) 


The shadows or reflections of things seen in moving 
water, that is to say with tiny waves, will always be 
greater than the object outside the water which causes 
them. (H 76 [28] *>.) 

The atmosphere is blue because of the darkness which 
is above it, for black and white together make blue. 

(#77 [29]*.) 

The part of the cloud which is nearest to the eye will 
seem swifter than that which is higher ; and for this 
reason they often appear to be moving in contrary 
directions, one to the other. (H 89 [41] r.) 


The high lights or the lustre of any particular object 
will not be situated in the centre of the illuminated part, 
but will make as many changes of position as the eye 
that beholds it. (H 90 [4*] *.) 


When you are representing a white body surrounded 
by ample space, since the white has no colour in itself it 
is tinged and in part transformed by the colour of what 


is set over against it. If you are looking at a woman 
dressed in white in the midst of a landscape the side of 
her that is exposed to the sun will be so dazzling in 
colour that parts of it, like the sun itself, will cause pain 
to the sight, and as for the side exposed to the atmosphere 
which is luminous because of the rays of the sun being 
interwoven with it and penetrating it since this atmo- 
sphere is itself blue, the side of the woman which is 
exposed to it will appear steeped in blue. If the surface 
of the ground near to her be meadows, and the woman be 
placed between a meadow lit by the sun and the sun 
itself you will find that all the parts of the folds [of her 
dress] which are turned towards the meadow will be 
dyed by the reflected rays to the colour of the meadow ; 
and thus she becomes changed into the colours of the 
objects near, both those luminous and those non- 
luminous. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 20 r.) 


Of colours of equal whiteness that will seem most 
dazzling which is on the darkest background, and black 
will seem most intense when it is against a background 
of greater whiteness. 

Red also will seem most vivid when against a yellow 
background, and so in like manner with all the colours 
when set against those which present the sharpest con- 
trast, (c. A. 184*. c.) 


Since white is not a colour but is capable of becoming 
the recipient of every colour, when a white object is seen 


in the open air all its shadows are blue ; and this comes 
about in accordance with the fourth proposition, which 
says that : 'the surface of every opaque body partakes 
of the colour of surrounding objects/ As therefore this 
white object is deprived of the light of the sun by the 
interposition of some object which comes between 
the sun and it, all that portion of it which is exposed 
to the sun and the atmosphere, continues to partake of 
the colour of the sun and the atmosphere, and that part 
which is not exposed to the sun remains in shadow, and 
only partakes of the colour of the atmosphere. And if this 
white object should neither reflect the green of the fields 
which stretch out to the horizon nor yet face the bright- 
ness of the horizon itself, it would undoubtedly appear of 
such simple colour as the atmosphere showed itself to be. 


The colour of the object illuminated partakes of the 
colour of that which illuminates it. (37 r.) 

The colours of the middle of the rainbow mingle with 
each other. 

The bow itself is neither in the rain nor in the eye that 
sees it, although it is produced by the rain, the sun, and 
the eye, 

The rainbow is invariably seen by the eye which is 
situated between the rain and the body of the sun, and 
consequently when the sun is in the east and the rain in 
the west the rainbow is produced upon the western rain. 

(E ewer i v.) 



As a means of practising this perspective of the varia- 
tion and loss or diminution of the proper essence of 
colours, take at distances a hundred braccia apart ob- 
jects standing in the landscape, such as trees, houses, 
men, and places, and in front of the first tree fix a 
piece of glass so that it is quite steady, and then let 
your eye rest upon it and trace out a tree upon the glass 
above the outline of the tree ; and afterwards remove 
the glass so far to one side that the actual tree seems 
almost to touch the one that you have drawn. Then 
colour your drawing in such a way that the two are 
alike in colour and form, and that if you close one eye 
both seem painted on the glass and the same distance 
away. Then proceed in the same way with a second and 
a third tree at distances of a hundred braccia from each 
other. And these will always serve as your standards 
and teachers when you are at work on pictures where 
they can be applied, and they will cause the work to 
be successful in its distance. But I find that it is a rule 
that the second is reduced to four-fifths the size of the 
first when it is twenty braccia distant from it. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. ^^ v.) 


The outlines and forms of each part of bodies in 
shadow are poorly distinguished in their shadows and 
lights, but in such parts as are between the lights and 
shadows parts of these bodies are of the first degree of 
distinctness. (G 32 r.) 



The truth of this proposition is proved by the fact 
that the boundary of the substance is a surface, which 
is neither a part of the body enclosed by this surface 
nor a part of the atmosphere which surrounds this body, 
but is the medium interposed between the atmosphere 
and the body, as is proved in its place. But the lateral 
boundaries of these bodies are the boundary line of 
the surface, which line is of invisible thickness. There- 
fore, O painter, do not surround your bodies with lines, 
and especially when making objects less than their 
natural size, for these not only cannot show their lateral 
boundaries, but their parts will be invisible from dis- 
tance. (G 37 r.) 


The lights which illumine opaque bodies are of four 
kinds, that is to say universal as that of the atmosphere 
within our horizon, and particular like that of the sun or 
of a window or door or other space ; and the third is 
reflected light ; and there is also a fourth which passes 
through substances of the degree of transparency of linen 
or paper or such like things, but not those transparent like 
glass or crystal or other diaphanous bodies with which 
the effect is the same as if there was nothing interposed 
between the body in shadow and the light that illumines 
it ; and of these we shall treat separately in our discourse. 

(C 3 



The object will appear more or less distinct at the 
same distance in proportion as the atmosphere inter- 
posed between the eye and this object is of greater ofc 
less clearness. Since therefore you are aware that the 
greater or less quantity of atmosphere interposed be- 
tween the eye and the object causes the outlines of these 
objects to seem more or less blurred to the eye, you 
should represent the stages of loss of definiteness of 
these bodies in the same proportion to each other as 
that of their distances from the eye of the beholder. 

(E 79 0.) 


That body will present the strongest contrast between 
its lights and shadows which is seen by the strongest 
light, such as the light of the sun or at night by the 
light of a fire ; but this should rarely be employed in 
painting because the works will remain hard and devoid 
of grace. 

A body which is in a moderate light will have but 
little difference between its lights and shadows ; and 
this comes to pass at the fall of the evening, or when 
there are clouds : works painted then are soft in feeling 
and every kind of face acquires a charm. Thus in 
every way extremes are injurious. Excess of light 
makes things seem hard; 1 and too much darkness 

1 MS. has *il tropo lume fa crudo.* So also Dr. Richter. The text of 
M. Ravaisson-Mollien in place of * fa crudo ' has facendo/ 


does not admit of our seeing them. The mean is 


The lights cast from small windows also present a 
strong contrast of light and shadow, more especially if 
the chamber lit by them is large ; and this is not good 
to use in painting. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 33 *.) 


When you are drawing from nature the light should 
be from the north, so that it may not vary ; and if 
it is from the south keep the window covered with a 
curtain so that though the sun shine upon it all day long 
the light will undergo no change. The elevation of the 
light should be such that each body casts a shadow on 
the ground which is of the same length as its height. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 33 r.) 


Since we see that the quality of colours becomes 
known by means of light, it is to be inferred that where 
there is most light there the true quality of the colour so 
illuminated will be most visible, and where there is most 
shadow there the colour will be most affected by the 
colour of the shadow. Therefore, O painter, be mindful 
to show the true quality of the colours in the parts 
which are in light. (MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 33 r.) 



The disposition of the light should be in harmony 
with the natural conditions under which you represent 
your figure ; that is if you are representing it in sun- 
light, make the shadows dark with great spaces of light, 
and mark the shadows of all the surrounding bodies and 
their shadows upon the ground- If you represent it in 
dull weather, make only a slight difference between the 
lights and the shadows, and do not make any other 
shadow at the feet. If you represent it within doors, 
make a strong difference between the lights and shadows 
and show the shadow on the ground. 

And if you represent a window covered by a curtain 
and the wall white there should be little difference be- 
tween the lights and shadows. If it is lit by a fire you 
should make the lights ruddy and powerful and the 
shadows dark ; and where the shadows strike the walls or 
the floor should be sharply defined, and the farther away 
they extend from the body the broader and larger should 
they become. And if it be lit in part by the fire and 
in part by the atmosphere, make the part lit by the 
atmosphere the stronger, and let that lit by the fire be 
almost as red as fire itself. And above all let the figures 
that you paint have sufficient light and from above, that 
is all living persons whom you paint, for the people whom 
you see in the streets are all lighted from above ; and I 
would have you know that you have no acquaintance 
so intimate but that if the light fell on him from below 

you would find it difficult to recognise him. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 33 r.) 



First you should consider the figures whether they 
have the relief which their position requires, and the 
light that illuminates them 3 so that the shadows may not 
be the same at the extremities of the composition as in 
the centre, because it is one thing for a figure to be 
surrounded by shadows, and another for it to have the 
shadows only on one side. Those figures are surrounded 
by shadows which are towards the centre of the com- 
position, because they are shaded by the dark figures 
interposed between them and the light ; and those are 
shaded on one side only which are interposed between 
the light and the main group, for where they do not 
face the light they face the group, and there they repro- 
duce the darkness cast by this group, and where they 
do not face the group they face the brightness of the 
light, and there they reproduce its radiance. 

Secondly, you should consider whether the distribution 
or arrangement of the figures is devised in agreement 
with the conditions you desire the action to represent. 

Thirdly, whether the figures are actively engaged on 
their purpose. (G 19 r.) 


Of men and horses labouring in battle the different 
parts should be darker in proportion as they are closer 
to the ground on which they are supported ; and this is 


proved from the sides of wells, which become darker in 
proportion to their depth, this being due to the fact that 
the lowest part of the well sees and is seen by a lesser 
amount of the luminous atmosphere than any other part 
of it. And the pavements when they are the same 
colour as the legs of the men and horses will always 
seem in higher light within equal angles than will these 
same legs. (G 15 r.) 


Take careful note of the situation of your figures, for 
you will have the light and shade different if the object 
is in a dark place with a particular light, and if it is in a 
bright place with the direct light of the sun, and different 
also if it is in a dark place with the diffused light of 
evening or in dull weather, and if it is in the diffused 

light of the atmosphere lit by the sun. 

(<? 33 *) 


You, who reproduce the works of nature, behold the 
dimensions, the degrees of intensity, and the forms of 
the lights and shadows of each muscle, and observe in 
the lengths of their figures towards which muscle they 

are directed by the axis of their central lines* 

( 3 r.) 



Buildings seen at a great distance in the evening or 
morning through mist or heavy atmosphere, have only 


such portions in light as are illuminated by the sun 
which is then near the horizon, and the parts of these 
buildings which are not exposed to the sun remain almost 
the same dim neutral colour as the mist. (E 3 *.) 


When the sun is in the east, the trees in the south 
and north are almost as much in light as in shadow, but 
the total amount in light is greater in proportion as they 
are more to the west, and the total amount in shadow 
is greater in proportion as they are more to the east. 


When the sun is in the east, the grasses in the 
meadows and the other small plants are of a most 
brilliant green, because they are transparent to the sun. 
This does not happen with the meadows in the west, 
and in those in the south and north, the grasses are of a 
moderate brilliance in their green. (G 20 *.) 


When the sun is in the east, all the parts of trees 
which are illuminated by it are of a most brilliant green ; 
and this is due to the fact that the leaves illuminated by 
the sun within half our hemisphere, namely the eastern 
half, are transparent ; while within the western semicircle 
the verdure has a sombre hue and the air is damp and 
heavy, of the colour of dark ashes, so that it is not 
transparent like that in the east, which is refulgent, and 
the more so as it is more full of moisture. 


The shadows of the trees in the east cover a large 
part of the tree, and they are darker in proportion as the 
trees are thicker with leaves. (G 21 r.) 


When the sun is in the east, the trees seen towards 
the east will have the light surrounding them all around 
their shadows, except towards the earth, unless the tree 
has been pruned in the previous year ; and the trees in 
the south and in the north will be half in shadow and 
half in light, and more or less in shadow or in light 
according as they are more or less to the east or to 
the west. 

The fact of the eye being high or low causes a 
variation in the shadows and lights of trees, for when 
the eye is above, it sees the trees with very little shadow, 
and when below with a great deal of shadow. 

The different shades of green of plants are as varied 
as are their species. (G 21 v.) 


When the sun is in the east, the trees towards the 
west will appear to the eye with very little relief and 
of almost imperceptible gradation, on account of the 
atmosphere which lies very thick between the eye and 
these trees, according to the seventh [part] of this 
[treatise] ; and they are deprived of shadow, for although 
a shadow exists in each part of the ramification, it so 
happens that the images of shadow and light which come 
to the eye are confused and blended together, and cannot 


be discerned through the smallness of their size. And 
the highest lights are in the centre of the trees and 
the shadows are towards their extremities, and their 
separation is marked by the shadows in the spaces 
between these trees when the forests are dense with 
trees ; and in those which are more scattered the con- 
tours are but little seen. (G 22 r.) 


When the sun is in the east, the trees in that quarter 
are dark towards the centre and their edges are in light. 


The smoke is seen better and more distinctly in the 
eastern than in the western quarter when the sun is 
in the east. This is due to two causes; the first is 
that the sun shines through the particles of this smoke 
with its rays* and lightens these up and renders them 
visible ; the second is that the roofs of the houses seen 
in the east at this hour are in shadow, because their 
slope prevents them from being lighted by the sun ; the 
same happens with the dust, and both the one and the 
other are more charged with light in proportion as they 
are thicker, and they are thickest towards the middle. 

(G 22 *.) 


When the sun is in the east, the smoke of cities will 
not be visible in the west, because it is neither seen 
penetrated by the solar rays nor against a daric back- 
ground, since the roofs of the houses turn the same side 


to the eye that they show to the sun, and against this 
bright background the smoke will be scarcely visible. 
But dust when seen under the same conditions will 
appear darker than smoke, because it is thicker in 
substance than smoke which is made up of vapour. 

(G 23 r.) 


When the sun is in the east and the eye is looking 
down upon a city from above, the eye will see the 
southern part of the city, with its roofs half in shadow 
and half in light, and so also with the northern part ; 
but the eastern part will be all in shadow and the 
western part all in light. (G 19 v.) 


Of the various colours other than blue, that which 
at a great distance will resemble blue most closely, will 
be that which is nearest to black, and so conversely 
the colour which least resembles black will be the one 
which at a great distance will most retain its natural 

Accordingly the green in landscapes will become more 
changed into blue than will the yellow or the whhe, and 
so conversely the yellow and the white will undergo less 
change than the green, and the red still less. 

(* 75 *.) 


The dark colours of the shadows of mountains at a 
great distance take a more beautiful and purer blue than 
do those parts which are in light, and from this it follows 


that when the rock of the mountains is reddish, the 
parts of it which are in light are fawn-coloured, and the 
more brightly it is illuminated the more closely will it 
retain its natural colour. (7 48 r.) 


The landscapes which occur in representations of 
winte^ should not show the mountains blue as one sees 
them in summer, and this is proved by the fourth part of 
this [chapter], where it is stated that of the mountains 
seen at a great distance that will seem a deeper blue in 
colour which is in itself darker ; for when the trees are 
stripped of their leaves they look grey in colour, and 
when they are with their leaves they are green, and in 
proportion as the green is darker than the grey, the green 
will appear a more intense blue than the grey ; and by 
the fifth part of this [chapter], the shadows of trees 
which are clad with leaves are as much darker than the 
shadows pf those trees which are stripped of leaves as the 
trees dad with leaves are denser than those without 
leaves ; and thus we have established our proposition. 

The definition of the blue colour of the atmosphere 
supplies the reason why landscapes are a deeper shade of 
blue in summer than in winter. (E 19 r .) 


In representing wind, in addition to showing the 
bending of the 'boughs and the inverting of their leaves 
at the approach of the wind, you should represent the 

clouds of fine dust mingled with the troubled air. 

(E 6 v.) 

2 4 2 OF TREES 


Those trees and shrubs which are more split up into 
a quantity of thin branches ought to have less density of 
shadow. The tree and the shrubs which have larger leaves 
cast a greater shadow. (MS. 2038, B&. Nat. 31 *.) 


The true method of practice in representing country 
scenes, or I should say landscapes with their trees, is to 
choose them when the sun in the sky is hidden, so that 
the fields receive a diffused light and not the direct light 
of the sun, for this makes the shadows sharply defined 
and very different from the lights. (G n v.) 


What outlines do trees show at a distance against the 
atmosphere which serves as their background? The 
outlines of the structure of trees against the luminous 
atmosphere as they are more remote approach the 
spherical more closely in their shape, and as they are 
nearer so they display a greater divergence from the 
spherical form. So the first tree a l as being near to the 
eye displays the true form of its ramification, but this is 
somewhat less visible in , and disappears altogether in f , 
where not only can none of the branches of the tree be 
seen, but the whole tree can only be recognised with 
great difficulty. 

Every object in shadow, be it of whatever shape you 
please, will at a great distance appear to be spherical ; 
and this occurs because if an object be rectangular, then at 

1 MS. contains a dutch of a row of trees seen in perspective. 



Fait f>. 24.Z 


a very short distance its angles become invisible, and a 
little farther off it loses more than it retains of the lesser 
sides, and so before losing the whole it loses the parts, since 
these are less than the whole. So with a man when so 
situated you lose sight of the legs, arms, and head, before 
the trunk, and then the extremities of the length become 
lost before those of the breadth, and when these have 
become equal there would be a square 1 if the angles 
remained, but as they are lost there is a sphere. (G 26 r.) 


Landscapes ought to be represented so that the trees 
are half in light and half in shadow ; but it is better to 
make them when the sun is covered in clouds, for titan 
the trees are lighted up by the general light of the sky 
and the general shadow of the earth ; and these are so 
much darker in their parts in proportion as these parts 
are nearer to the middle of the tree and to the earth. 

(G 19 *.) 


The trees illuminated by the sun and by the atmo- 
sphere which have leaves of a dark colour will be illumi- 
nated on one side by the atmosphere alone, and in 
consequence of being thus illuminated will share its 
blueness ; and on the opposite side they will be illuminated 
both by the atmosphere and the sun, and the part which 
the eye sees illuminated by the sun will be resplendent. 

(G 28 r.) 

1 I have followed Dr. Richter in interpreting a tiny figure in the text as a 
square, M. Ravaisson-Mollien reads it as <d.' 



The shadows of verdure always approximate to blue, 
and so it is with every shadow of every other thing, and 
they tend to this colour more entirely when they are 
further distant from the eye, and less in proportion as 
they are nearer. 

The leaves which reflect the blue of the atmosphere 
always present themselves edgewise to the eye. 


The part illuminated will show more of its natural 
colour at great distance when it is illuminated by the 
most powerful light. (G 15 r.) 

In the representation of trees in leaf be careful not to 
repeat the same colour too often for a tree which has 
another tree of the same colour as its background, but 
vary it by making the foliage lighter or darker or of a 
more vivid green. (G 27 *.) 

The extremities of the branches of trees if not dragged 
down by the weight of their fruit turn towards the sky 
as much as possible. 

The upper sides of their leaves are turned towards 
the sky in order to receive nourishment from the dew 
that falls by night. 

The sun gives spirit and life to plants and the earth 
nourishes them with moisture. In this connection I 
once made the experiment of leaving only one small 
root on a gourd and keeping this nourished with water ; 


and the gourd brought to perfection all the fruits that 
it could produce, which were about sixty gourds of the 
long species ; and I set myself diligently to consider the 
source of its life, and I perceived that it was the dew of 
the night which steeped it abundantly with its moisture 
through the joints of its great leaves, and thereby 
nourished the tree and its offspring, or rather the seeds 
which were to produce its offspring. 

The rule as to the leaves produced on the last of the 
year's branches is that on twin branches they will grow 
in a contrary direction, that is, that the leaves in their 
earliest growth turn themselves round towards the branch 
in such a way that the sixth leaf above grows over the 
sixth leaf below ; and the manner of their turning is 
that if one turns towards its fellow on the right, the 
other turns to the left. 

The leaf serves as a breast to nourish the branch or 
fruit which grows in the succeeding year. (G 31 * .) 


Of the plants which take their shadows from the trees 
which grow among them, those which are in front of the 
shadow have their stalks lighted up against a back- 
gijpund of shadow, and the plants which are in shadow 
teve their stalks dark against a light background, that 
is against a background which is beyond the shadow. 


Of the trees which are between the eye and the light, 
the part in front will be bright, and this brightness will 


be diversified by the ramification of the transparent 
leaves as seen from the tinder side, with the shining 
leaves seen from the right side, and in the background, 
below and behind, the verdure will be dark, because it is 
cast in shadow by the front part of the said tree ; and 

this occurs in trees which are higher than the eye. 

(G 9 *.) 


When the leaves are interposed between the light and 
the eye, then that which is nearest to the eye will be the 
darkest, and that farthest away will be the lightest, if 
they are not seen against the atmosphere ; and this 
happens with leaves which are beyond the centre of the 
tree, that is in the direction of the light. (G 10 ?.) 


The lights on such leaves as are darkest in colour will 
most closely resemble the colour of the atmosphere re- 
flected in them ; and this is due to the fact that "the 
brightness of the illuminated part mingling with the 
darkness forms of itself a blue colour ; and this bright- 
ness proceeds from the blue of the atmosphere which is 
reflected in the smooth surface of these leaves, thereby 
adding to the blueness which this light usually produces 
when it falls upon dark objects. 


But leaves of yellowish green do not when they reflect 
the atmosphere create a reflection which verges on blue ; 
for every object when seen in a mirror takes in part the 


colour of this mirror ; therefore the blue of the atmo- 
sphere reflected in the yellow of the leaf appears green, 
because blue and yellow mixed together form a most 
brilliant green, and therefore the lustre on light leaves 
which are yellowish in colour will be a greenish yellow. 

(G 28 v.) 

The shadows of plants are never black, for where the 
atmosphere penetrates there cannot be utter darkness. 

(G 8 r.) 

The leaf always turns its upper side towards the sky 
so that it may be better able to receive over its whole 
surface the dew which drops down with the slow move- 
ment of the atmosphere ; and these leaves are arranged on 
the pknts in such a way that one covers another as little 
as possible, but they lie alternately one above the other 
as is seen with the ivy which covers the walls. And this 
alternation serves two ends ; that is in order to leave spaces 
so that the air and the sun may penetrate between them, 
and the second purpose of it is that the drops which 
fall from the first leaf may fall on to the fourth, or on 
to the sixth in the case of other trees. (G 27 *,) 

The shadows on transparent leaves seen from beneath 
are the same as those on the right side of the leaf, for 
the shadow is visible in transparence on the under side" 
as well as the part in light ; but the lustre can never be 
seen in transparence. (G 3 *.) 

Although leaves with a smooth surface are for the 
most part of the same colour on the right side- as on the 
reverse, it so happens that the side exposed to the atmo- 


sphere partakes of the colour of the atmosphere, and 
seems to partake of its colour more closely in proportion 
as the eye is nearer to it and sees it more foreshortened. 
And the shadows will invariably appear darker on the 
right side than on the reverse through the contrast 
caused by the high lights appearing against the shadow. 

The under side of the leaf, although its colour in itself 
may be the same as that of the right side, appears 
more beautiful in colour; and this colour is a green 
verging upon yellow ; and this occurs when this leaf is 
interposed between the eye and the light which illumines 
it from the opposite side. Its shadows also are in the 
same positions as were those on the opposite side. 

Therefore, O Painter, when you make trees near at 
hand remember that when your eye is somewhat below 
the level of the tree you will be able to see its leaves 
some on the right side and some on the reverse ; and 
the right sides will be a deeper blue as they are seen more 
foreshortened, and the same leaf will sometimes show 
part of the right side and part of the reverse, and conse- 
quently you must make it of two colours. 

(G 3 r. andz v.) 

When there is one belt of green behind another, the 
High lights on the leaves and their transparent lights 
show more strongly than those which are against the 
brightness of the atmosphere. 

And if the sun illumines the leaves without these 
coining between it and the eye, and without the eye 
facing the sun, then the high lights and the transparent 
lights of the leaves are extremely powerful. 


Fact p. 248 


It is very useful to make some of the lower branches, 
and these should be dark, and should serve as a back- 
ground for the illuminated belts of green which are at 
some little distance from the first. 

Of the darker greens seen from below, that part 
is darkest which is nearest to the eye, that is to say which 
is farthest from the luminous atmosphere. (G 4 r.) 

Never represent leaves as though transparent in the 
sun, because they are always indistinct ; and this comes 
about because over the transparency of one leaf there 
will be imprinted the shadow of another leaf which is 
above it ; and this shadow has definite outlines and a 
fixed density. And sometimes it is the half or third part 
of the leaf which is in the shadow, and consequently the 
structure of such a leaf is indistinct, and the imitation of 
it is to be avoided. 

The upper branches of the spreading boughs of trees 
keep nearer to the parent bough than do those below. 

That leaf is less transparent which takes the light at a 
more acute angle. (G 4 r.) 


It is evident that the part of the atmosphere which 
lies nearest the level ground is denser than the rest, 
and that the higher it rises the lighter and more 
transparent it becomes.- 

In the case of large and lofty objects which are some 
distance away from you, their lower parts will not be 
much seen, because the line by which you should see 


them passes through the thickest and densest portion of 
the atmosphere. But the summits of these heights are 
seen along a line which, although when starting from 
your eye it is produced through the denser atmo- 
sphere, yet since it ends at the highest summit of the 
object seen, concludes its course in an atmosphere far 
more rarefied than that of its base. And consequently 
the farther away from you this line extends from point 
to point the greater is the change in the finer quality of 
the atmosphere. 

Do you, therefore, O Painter, when you represent 
mountains, see that from hill to hill the bases are always 
paler than the summits, and the farther away you make 
them one from another let the bases be paler in propor- 
tion, and the loftier they are, the more they should 
reveal their true shape and colour. 

(MS. 2038, Jtf. Nat. 1 8 r.) 


Since the atmosphere is dense near the ground, and 
the higher it is the finer it becomes, therefore when the 
sun is in the east and you look towards the west, 
taking in a part to the north and to the south, you will 
see that this dense air receives more light from the sun 
than the finer air, because the rays encounter more 
resistance. And if your view of the horizon is bounded 
by a low plain, that farthest region of the sky will be 
seen through that thicker whiter atmosphere, and this 
will destroy the truth of the colour as seen through such a 


medium j and the sky will seem whiter there than it 
does overhead, where the line of vision traverses a lesser 
space of atmosphere charged with thick vapours. But if 
you look towards the east the atmosphere will appear 
darker in proportion as it is lower, for in this lower 
atmosphere the luminous rays pass less freely. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 18 *.) 


them passes through the thickest and densest portion of 
the atmosphere. But the summits of these heights are 
seen along a line which, although when starting from 
your eye it is produced through the denser atmo- 
sphere, yet since it ends at the highest summit of the 
object seen, concludes its course in an atmosphere far 
more rarefied than that of its base. And consequently 
the farther away from you this line extends from point 
to point the greater is the change in the finer quality of 
the atmosphere. 

Do you, therefore, O Painter, when you represent 
mountains, see that from hill to hill the bases are always 
paler than the summits, and the farther away you make 
them one from another let the bases be paler in propor- 
tion, and the loftier they are, the more they should 
reveal their true shape and colour. 

(MS. 2038, #. Nat. 1 8 r.) 


Since the atmosphere is dense near the ground, and 
the higher it is the finer it becomes, therefore when the 
sun is in the east and you look towards the west, 
taking in a part to the north and to the south, you will 
see that this dense air receives more light from the sun 
than the finer air, because the rays encounter more 
resistance. And if your view of the horizon is bounded 
by a low plain, that farthest region of the sky will be 
seen through that thicker whiter atmosphere, and this 
will destroy the truth of the colour as seen through such a 


medium ; and the sky will seem whiter there than it 
does overhead, where the line of vision traverses a lesser 
space of atmosphere charged with thick vapours. But if 
you look towards the east the atmosphere will appear 
darker in proportion as it is lower, for in this lower 
atmosphere the luminous rays pass less freely. 

(MS. 2038, Bib. Nat. 18 v.) 



THE unhappy willow on finding herself unable to enjoy 
the pleasure of seeing her slender boughs attain to such 
a height as she desired, or even point towards the sky, 
because she was continually being maimed and lopped 
and spoiled for the sake of the vine or any other tree 
which happened to be near, summoned up all her 
faculties and by this means opened wide the portals of 
her imagination, remaining in continual meditation, and 
seeking in the world of plants for one wherewith to ally 
herself which could not need the help of her branches. 
So continuing for a time with her imagination at work, 
the thought of the gourd suddenly presented itself to her 
mind, and all her branches quivered in her intense joy, 
for it seemed to her that she had found the right com- 
panion for the purpose she desired, because the gourd is 
by nature more fitted to bind others than to be bound 
herself. After coming to this conclusion she lifted up 
her branches towards the sky and waited, on the look- 
out for some friendly bird to serve as the intermediary 
of her desire. Among the rest she descried the magpie 
near to her and said to him, *O gentle bird, by the 
refuge you have lately found among my branches at 



dawn, when the hungry, cruel, and rapacious falcon has 
wished to devour you, by that rest you have often found 
in me when your wings craved rest, by those delights 
you have enjoyed among my branches in amorous 
dalliance with your companions, I entreat you to go and 
seek out the gourd and obtain from her some of her 
seeds, telling her that I will care for whatever is born 
from them as though they were my own offspring, and in 
like manner use all such words as may incline her to the 
like purpose, though to you who are a master of language 
there is no need for me to give instruction. If you will 
do this I am content to let your nest be in the fork of 
my boughs together with all your family without pay- 
ment of any rent.' So the magpie after stipulating with 
the willow for certain further conditions, the most 
important being that she should never admit upon her 
boughs any snake or polecat, cocked his tail and lowered 
his head, and casting himself loose from the bough let 
himself float on his wings ; and beating about with these 
in the fleeting air, seeking hither and thither, and guid- 
ing himself by using his tail as a rudder, he came to a 
gourd, and after courteously saluting her obtained by 
a few polite words the seeds for which he sought. On 
taking these back to the willow he was welcomed with 
joyful looks ; and then scraping away with his foot some 
of the earth near the willow he planted the grains with 
his beak round about her in a circle. 

These soon began to grow, and as the branches increased 
and opened out they began to cover all the branches of 
the willow, and their great leaves shut away from it the 
beauty of the sun and the sky. And all this evil not 


sufficing, the gourds next began to drag down to the 
ground in their rude grip the tops of the slender boughs, 
twisting and distorting them in strange shapes* Then 
the willow after shaking and tossing herself to no 
purpose to make the gourds loose their hold, and vainly 
for days cherishing such idle hopes, since the grasp of 
the gourds was so sure and firm as to forbid such 
thoughts* seeing the wind pass by, forthwith commended 
herself to it. And the wind blew hard; and it rent 
open the willow's old and hollow trunk, tearing it in two 
parts right down to its roots ; and as they fell asunder 
she vainly bewailed her fate, confessing herself born to 
no good end. (C. A. 67 r. &) 

The thrushes rejoiced greatly on seeing a man catch 
the owl and take away her liberty by binding her feet 
with strong bonds. But then by means of birdlime the 
owl was the cause of the thrushes losing not only their 
liberty but even their life. This is said of those states 
which rejoice at seeing their rulers lose their liberty, in 
consequence of which they afterwards lose hope of 
succour and remain bound in the power of their enemy, 

losing their liberty and often life. 

(C.A. 117 r. *.) 

A certain patch of snow finding itself clinging to the 
top of a rock which was perched on the extreme summit 
of a very high mountain, being left to its own imagina- 
tion began to reflect and to say within itself: * Shall I 
not be thought haughty and proud for having placed 
myself in so exalted a spot, being indeed a mere morsel 
of snow ? And for allowing that such a vast quantity of 


snow as I see around me should take a lower place than 
mine ? Truly my small dimensions do not deserve this 
eminence ; and in proof of my insignificance I may 
rcadily-acquaint myself with the fate which but yesterday 
befell my companions who in a few hours were destroyed 
by the sun ; and this came about from their having placed 
themselves in a loftier station than was required of them. 
I will flee from the wrath of the sun, arid abase myself, 
and find a place that befits my modest size/ 

Then throwing itself down, it began to descend, rolling 
down from the lofty crags on to the other snow ; and 
the more it sought a lowly place, the more it increased 
in bulk, until at last ending its course upon a hill it 
fbund itself almost the equal in size of the hill on which 
it rested, and it was the last of the snow which was 
melted that summer by the sun. 

This is said for those who by humbling themselves 
are exalted* (C. J. 67 . &) 

A nut which found itself carried by a crow to the top 
of a lofty campanile, having there fallen into a crevice 
and so escaped its deadly beak, besought the wall by that 
grace which God had bestowed upon it in causing . it to 
be so exalted and great, and so rich in having bells of 
such beauty and of such mellow tone, that it would deign 
to give it succour ; that insomuch as it had not been 
able to drop beneath its old father's green branches and 
lie in the fallow earth covered by his fallen leaves the 
\*all would not abandon it, for when it found itself in 
the fierce crow's cruel beak it had vowed that if it 
escaped thence it would end its days in a small hole. At 


these words the wall, moved with compassion, was content 
to give it shelter in the spot where it had fallen. And 
within a short space of time the nut began to burst open 
and to put its roots in among the crevices of the stones 
and push them further apart and throw up shoots out 
of its hollow, and these soon rose above the top of 
the building ; and as the twisted roots grew thicker they 
commenced to tear asunder the walls and force the 
ancient stones out of their old positions. Then the wall too 
late and in vain deplored the cause of its destruction, 
and in a short time it was torn asunder and a great part 
fell in ruin. (C. A. 67 r. a.) 

The privet on feeling its tender branches, laden with 
new fruit, pricked by the sharp claws and beak of the 
troublesome blackbird, complained to her with pitiful re- 
proaches beseeching her that even if she plucked off her 
delicious fruit she would at any rate not deprive her of her 
leaves which protected her from the scorching rays of the 
sun, nor with her sharp claws rend away and strip bare 
Jier tender bark. But to this the blackbird replied with 
insolent rebuke : * Silence ! rude bramble ! Know you 
not that nature has made you to produce these fruits for 
my sustenance ? Cannot you 'see that you came into the 
world in order to supply me with this very food ? Know 
you not, vile thing that you are, that next winter you 
will serve as sustenance and food for the fire?' To 
which words the tree listened patiently and not without 

But a short time afterwards the blackbird was caught 
in a net, and some boughs were cut to make a cage in 


order to imprison her, and among the rest wore some 
cut from the tender privet to serve for the rods of the 
cage ; and these on perceiving that they would be the 
cause of the blackbird being deprived of liberty rejoiced 
and uttered these words : c We are here, O blackbird, 
not yet consumed by the fire as you said ; we shall see 

you in prison before you see us burnt.* 

(C. A, 67 r. a.) 

Some flames had already lived for a month in a glass 
furnace when they saw a candle approaching in a beautiful 
and glittering candlestick* They strove with great 
longing to reach it; and one of their number left its 
natural course and wound itself into an unburnt brand 
upon which it fed, and then passed out at the other end 
by a small cleft to the candle which was near, and flung 
itself upon it, and devouring it with the utmost voracity 
and greed consumed it almost entirely; then desirous 
of prolonging its own life, it strove in vain to return 
to the furnace which it had left, but was forced to 
droop and die together with the candle. So at last in 
lamentation and regret it was changed to foul smoke, 
leaving all its sisters in glowing and abiding life and 
beauty. (C. A. 67 r. *.) 

The fig-tree standing near to the elm, and perceiving 
that her boughs bore no fruit themselves, yet had the 
hardihood to keep away the sun from her own, unripe 
figs, rebuked her, saying : c O Elm, are you not ashamed 
to stand in front of me ? Only wait until my children 
are fully grown and you will see where you will find 
yourself/ But when her offspring were ripe a regiment 


of soldiers came to the place, and they tore off the branches 
of the fig-tree in order to take her figs and left her all 
stripped and broken. 

And as she thus stood maimed in all her limbs the 
elm questioned her saying, * O Fig-tree, how much better 
was it to be without children than to be brought by 
them to so wretched a pass ? * (C. A. 76 r, 4.) 

Once upon a time the razor emerging from the handle 
which served it as a sheath, and placing itself in the sun, 
saw the sun reflected on its surface, at which thing it 
took great pride, and turning it over in its thoughts it 
began to say to itself, * Am I to go back any more to 
that shop from which I have just now come away ? No 
surely ! It cannot be the pleasure of the gods that such 
radiant beauty should stoop to such vile uses ! What 
madness would that be which should induce me to scrape 
the kthered chins of rustic peasants and to do such 
menial service ! Is this body made for actions such as 
these ? Certainly not ! I will go and hide myself in 
some retired spot, and there pass my life in tranquil ease. 9 

And so having hid itself away for some months, re- 
turning one day to the light and coming out of its sheath 
it perceived that it had acquired the appearance of a 
rusty saw, and that its surface no longer reflected the 
sun's radiance. In vain with useless repentance it be- 
moaned its irreparable hurt, saying to itself, c Ah how 
much better would it have been to have let the barber 
use that lost edge of mine that had so rare a keenness ! 
Where now is the glittering surface ? In truth the foul 
insidious rust has consumed it away ! ' 


The same thing happens with minds which in Keu of 
exercise give themselves up to sloth ; for these like the 
razor lose their keen edge, and the rust of ignorance 
destroys their form. (C. A. 175 *. a) 

A stone of considerable size, only recently left un- 
covered by the waters, stood in a certain spot perched up 
at the edge of a delightful copse, above a stony road, 
surrounded by plants bright with various flowers of dif- 
ferent colours, and looked upon the great mass of stones 
which lay heaped together in the road beneath. And she 
became filled with longing to let herself down there, saying 
within herself : * What am I doing here with these plants ? 
I would fain dwell in the company of my sisters yonder ' ; 
and so letting herself fall she ehded her rapid course 
among her desired companions. But when she had been 
there for a short time she found herself in continual 
distress from the wheels of the carts, the iron hoofs of 
the horses and the feet of the passers-by. One rolled her 
over, another trampled upon her; and at times she 
raised herself up a little as she lay covered with mud or 
the dung of some animal, and vainly looked up at the 
place from whence she had departed as a place of soli- 
tude and quiet peace. 

So it happens to those who leaving a life of solitude and 
contemplation choose to come and dwell in cities among 
people full of infinite wickedness. (C. A. 175 v. a.) 

As the painted butterfly was idly wandering and flit- 
ting about through the darkened air a light came within 
sight, and thither immediately it directed its course, and 


flqw round about it in varying circles marvelling greatly 
at such radiant beauty. And not contented merely to 
behold, it began to treat it as* was its custom with the 
fragrant flowers, and directing its flight it approached 
with bold resolvp close to the light, which thereupon con- 
sumed the tips of its wings and legs and the other extremi- 
ties ;, and then dropping down at the foot of it, "it began 
to consider with astonishment how this accident had 
been brought about, for it could not so much as enter- 
tain a thought that any evil or hurt could possibly come 
to it from a thing so beautiful ; and then having in part 
regained the strength which it had lost, it took another 
flight and passed right through the body of the flame, 
and in an instant fell down burned into the oil which 
fed the flame, preserving only so much life as sufficed 
it to reflect upon the cause of its destruction, saying to 
it, ' O accursed light ! I thought that in you I had 
found my happiness ! Vainly do I lament my mad 
desire, and by my ruin I have come to know your 
rapacious and destructive nature/ 

To which the light replied, r Thus do I treat whoever 
does not know how to use me aright/ 

This is said for those who when they see before them 
these carnal and worldly delights, hasten towards them 
like the butterfly, without ever taking thought as to their 
nature, which they know after long usage to their 
shame and loss. (C. A. z$j r. &) 

The flint on being struck by the steel marvelled 
greatly and said to it in a stern voice, * What arrogance 
prompts you to annoy me ? Trouble me not, for you 


have chosen me by mistake ; I have never done harm 
to any one/ To which the steel made answer, c If you 
will be patient you will see what a marvellous result will 
issue forth from you/ At these words the flint was 
pacified and patiently endured its martyrdom, and it saw 
itself give birth to the marvellous element of fire which 
by its potency became a factor in innumerable things. 

This is said for those who are dismayed at the outset of 
their studies, and then set out to gain the mastery over 
themselves and in patience to apply themselves con- 
tinuously to these studies, from which one sees result 
things marvellous to relate. (C* A. 257 r. 6.) 

The water on finding itself in the proud sea, its ele- 
ment, was seized with a desire to rise above the air ; and 
aided by the element of fire, having mounted up in thin 
vapour, it seemed almost as thin as the air itself; and 
after it had risen to a great height it came to where the 
air was more rarefied and colder, and there it was aban- 
doned by the fire ; and the small particles being pressed 
together were united and became heavy ; and dropping 
from thence its pride was put to rout, and it fell from 
the sky and was then drunk up by -the parched earth, 
where for a long time it lay imprisoned and did penance 
for its sin. ($. K. M, a. ^ r.) 

The lily planted itself down upon the bank of the 
Ticino, and the stream carried away the bank and with 
it the lily. 

The oyster being thrown out with other fish near to 
the sea from the house of a fisherman, prayed to a rat to 


take him to the sea : the rat who was intending to de- 
vour him, bade him open s but then as he bit him the 
oyster squeezed his head and held it ; and the cat came 
and killed him* (H 51 [3] v.) 

The spider thinking to find repose within the key- 
hole, found death. (C. A. 299 ?. .) 

The knife, an artificial weapon deprives man of his 
nails his natural weapon. 

The mirror bore itself proudly holding the queen 
mirrored within it, and after she has departed the mirror 
remains. (S. K. M. /. 44 v.) 

The paper on seeing itself all spotted by the obscure 
blackness of the ink gneves at it, and the ink shows it 
that by reason of the words composed upon it it becomes 
the cause of its preservation. ($, K. M. in. 27 r.) 

Loyalty. The cranes in order that their king may 
not perish by their keeping bad guard stand round him 
at night holding stones in their feet. Love, fear, and 
reverence write these upon the three stones of the 
cranes. (#118 [25 ?.] r.) 


By the branch of the nut-tree which is struck and 
beaten just when it has brought its fruit to perfection, 
is represented those who as the sequel of their illustrious 
works are struck by envy in divers ways, (G 88 v .) 

By the thorn upon which is grafted the good fruits is 
meant that which is not of itself predisposed to virtue, 

I'LATE iz 


Fat* f. 262 


yet by the help of an instructor itself produces the most 
useful virtues* 

One pushes down another : by these cubes l are repre- 
sented the life and conditions of mankind. (G 89 r.) 


II Moro, as the figure of Fortune with hair and robes 
and with hands held in front, and Messer Gualtieri with 
act of obeisance plucks him by the robes from below as 
he presents himself before him. 

Also Poverty as a hideous figure running behind a 
youth, whom II Moro covers with the skirt of his robe 
while he threatens the monster with his gilded sceptre. 

(/i 38 [90]*.) 


II Moro with the spectacles and Envy represented 
with lying Slander, and Justice black for II Moro. 

Labour with the vine in her hand. (H 88 [40] v.) 

The great bird will take its first flight upon the back 
of the great swan, filling the whole world with amaze- 
ment and filling all records with its fame ; and it will 
bring eternal glory to the nest where it was born. 

(SulPolo degli Uccetti, covtr, a r.) 

To write thus clearly of the kite would seem to be my 
destiny, because in the earliest recollections of my infancy 
it seemed to me when I was in the cradle that a kite 
came and opened my mouth with its tail and struck me 

within upon the lips with its tail many times- 

(C. A. 66, v, b.) 
1 MS, has a diagram with dice. 


DEAR BENEDETTO, To give you the news of the 
things here from the east, you must know that in the 
month of June there appeared a giant who came from 
the Libyan desert. This giant was born on Mount 
Atlas, and was bkck, and he fought against Artaxerxes 
with the Egyptians and Arabs, the Medes and Persians ; 
he lived in the sea upon the whales, the great leviathans 
and the ships. When the savage giant fell by reason 
of the ground bring covered over with blood and mire, 
it seemed as though a mountain had fallen ; whereat the 
country [shook] as though there were an earthquake, 
with terror to Pluto in hell, and Mars fearing for his 
life fled for refuge under the side of Jove. 1 And from 
the violence of the shock he lay prostrate on the level 
ground as though stunned; until suddenly the people 
believing that he had been killed by some thunderbolt, 
began to turn about his great beard ; and like a flock 
of ants that range about hither and thither furiously 
among the brambles beaten down by the axe of the 
sturdy peasant, so these are hurrying about over his 
huge limbs and piercing them with frequent wounds. 
At this the giant being roused, and perceiving himself 
to be almost covered by the crowd, suddenly on feeling 
himself smarting from their stabs, uttered a roar which 
seemed as though it were a terrific peal of thunder, and 
set his hands on the ground and lifted up his awe- 
inspiring countenance ; and then placing one of his hands 

1 MS. *Martc teroedo dela vita sera fugito sotto lato dj giovc/ These 
words in Leonardo's writing occur at the side and are not found in the 
transcript of the Italian edition. I have ventured to insert them where they 
seemed to best fit the sense, and also* to change the order of some of the 
sentences which are written in the margin. 


upon his head, he perceived it to be covered with men 
sticking to the hairs after the fashion of tiny creatures 
which are sometimes harboured there, and who, as they 
clung to the hairs and strove to hide among them, were 
like sailors in a storm who mount the rigging in order 
to lower the sail and lessen the force of the wind ; and 
at this point he shook his head and sent the men flying 
through the air after the manner of hail when it is driven 
by the fury of the winds, and many of these men. were 
found to be killed by those who fell on them Eke a tempest. 
Then he stood erect, trampling upon them with his feet. 

(C. j& 311 r. *.) 

The bkck visage at first sight is most horrible and 
terrifying to look upon, especially the swollen and blood- 
shot eyes set beneath the awful lowering eyebrows which 
cause the sky to be overcast and the earth to tremble. 
And believe me there is no man so brave but that, when 
the fiery eyes were turned upon him, he would willingly 
have put on wings in order to escape, for the face of 
infernal Lucifer would seem angelic by contrast with this. 

The nose was turned up in a snout with wide nostrils 
and sticking out of these were quantities of large bristles, 
beneath which was the arched mouth, with the thick lips, 
at whose extremities were hairs like those of cats, and 
the teeth were yellow. He towered above the heads of 
men on horseback from the top of his feet upwards. 

And as his cramped position had been irksome, ancUn 
order to rid himself of the importunity of the throng, 
his rage turned to frenzy, and he began to let his feet 
give vent to the frenzy which possessed his mighty limbs, 


and entering in among the crowd he began by his kicks to 
toss men up in the air, so that they fell down again upon 
the rest as though there had been a thick storm of hail, 
and many were those who in dying dealt out death. And 
this barbarity continued until such time as the dust stirred 
up by his great feet, rising up in the air, compelled his 
infernal fury to abate, while we continued our flight. 

Alas, how many attacks were made upon this raging 
fiend to whom every onslaught was as nothing 1 O 
wretched folk, for you there avail not the impregnable 
fortresses, nor the lofty walls of your cities, nor the being 
together in great numbers, nor your houses or palaces I 
There remained not any place unless it were the tiny 
holes and subterranean caverns where after the manner 
of crabs and crickets and creatures like these you might 
find safety and a means of escape. Oh, how many 
wretched mothers and fathers were deprived of their 
children ! How many unhappy women were deprived 
of their companions ! In truth, my dear Benedetto, I 
do not believe that ever since the world was created 
there has been witnessed such lamentation and wailing 
of people accompanied by so great terror. In truth, 
the human species in such a plight has need to envy 
every other race of creatures ; for though the eagle has 
strength sufficient to subdue the other birds, they yet 
remain unconquered through the rapidity of their flight, 
and so the swallows through their speed escape becoming 
the prey of the falcon, and the dolphins also by their 
swift flight escape becoming the prey of the whales and 
of the mighty leviathans ; but for us wretched mortals 
there avails not any flight, since this monster when 


advancing slowly far exceeds the speed of the swiftest 

I know not what to say or do for everywhere I seem 
to find myself swimming with bent head within the 
mighty throat and remaining indistinguishable in death, 
buried within the huge belly. (C. A. 96 v. b.) 



First of things which relate to the reasoning animals, 
second those which have not the power of reason, 
third of plants, fourth of ceremonies, fifth of customs, 
sixth of propositions, decrees or disputes, seventh of 
propositions contrary to nature (as to speak of a substance 
which the more there is taken from it is the more in- 
creased), and reserve the weighty propositions until the 
end, and begin with those of less import, and show first 
the evils and then the punishments, eighth of philosophical 



A large part of the bodies which have had life will 
pass into the bodies of other animals, that is the houses 
no longer inhabited will pass piecemeal through those 
which are inhabited, ministering to their needs and bear- 
ing away with them what is waste ; that is to say that 
the life of man is made by the things which he eats, and 
that these carry with them that part of man which is 



Men will sleep and eat and make their dwelling among 
trees grown in the forests and the fields. 


It shall seem to men that they see new destructions in 
the sky, and the flames descending therefrom shall seem 
to have taken flight and to flee away in terror ; they 
shall hear creatures of every kind speaking human lan- 
guage ; they shall run in a moment in person to divers 
parts of the world without movement ; amidst the dark- 
ness they shall see the most radiant splendours. O 
marvel of mankind ! What frenzy has thus impelled 
you ! You shall hold converse with animals of every 
species, and they with you in human language. You shall 
behold yourselves falling from great heights without 
suffering any injury ; the torrents will bear you with 
them as they, mingle in their rapid course. 


O cities of the sea, I behold in you your citizens, women 
as well as men, tightly bound with stout bonds around 
their arms and legs by folk who will have no under- 
standing of our speech ; and you will only be able to 
give vent to your griefs and sense of loss of liberty by 
making tearful complaints and sighs and lamentation 
one to another, for those who bind you will not have 
understanding of your speech nor will you understand 
them. (C. A. 143 r, a.) 



There will be many who will be moving one against 
another, holding in their hands the sharp cutting iron. 
These will not do each other any hurt other than that 
caused by fatigue, for as one leans forward the other 
draws back an equal space ; but woe to him who inter- 
venes between them, for in the end he will be left cut in 


Men will hide themselves within the bark of hollow 
trees, and there crying aloud they will make martyrs of 
themselves by beating their own limbs. 


Men shall walk without moving, they shall speak with 
those who are absent, they shall hear those who do not 


Many shall be seen carried by large animals with great 
speed to the loss of their lives and to instant death. 

In the air and on the earth shall be seen animals of 
different colours bearing men furiously to the destruc- 
tion of their lives. (C. A. 370 r. a.) 

You shall behold the bones of the dead by their rapid 
movement directing the fortunes of their mover : The 
dice. (1 64 [16] v.) 

Men will deal rude blows to that which is the cause 
of their life : They will thrash the grain. 


The skins of animals will make men rouse from their 
silence with loud cries and oaths : Balls for playing 

The wind which passes through the skins of animals 
will make men leap up : That is the bag-pipes which 
cause men to dance. (/ [65] 17 r.) 


Many Franciscans, Dominicans, and Benedictines will 
eat that which has recently been eaten by others, and 
they will remain many months before being able to 
speak. (/6 7 [i 9 ]r.) 


Men will take a pleasure in seeing their own works 
worn out and destroyed. (s. K. M. a. 61 *.) 



Many communities will there be who will hide them- 
selves and their young and their victuals within gloomy 
caverns, and there in dark places will sustain themselves 
and their families for many months without any light 
either artificial or natural. 


And many others will be robbed of their store of 
provisions and their food, and by an insensate folk 
will be cruelly immersed and drowned* O justice 
of God ! why dost thou not awake to behold thy 
creatures thus abused ? 



From countless numbers will be stolen their little 
children, and the throats of these shall be cut, and they 
shall be quartered most barbarously. 


In you, O cities of Africa ! your own, sons shall be 
seen torn to pieces within their own houses by most 
cruel and savage animals of your country. 


O neglectful nature, wherefore art thou thus partial, 
becoming to some of thy children a tender and benig- 
nant mother, to others a most cruel and ruthless step- 
mother ? I see thy children given into slavery to others 
without ever receiving any benefit, and in lieu of any 
reward for the services they have done for them they 
are repaid by the severest punishments, and they con- 
stantly spend their lives in the service of their oppressor. 

(C. A. 145 r. a.) 


Serpents of huge size will be seen at an immense 
height in the air fighting with birds. (C. A. 129 v. a.) 


There shall be heard in many parts of Europe instru- 
ments of various sizes making divers melodies, causing 
great weariness to those who hear them most closely. 



The many labours shall be repaid by hunger, thirst, 
wretchedness, blows, and goadings. 


In the horns of animals shall be seen sharp irons which 
shall take away the lives of many of their species. 

(C. A. 370 r. a.) 


Many there will be who by means of the horns of 
cattle will die a painful death. (C. A. 370 v. a.) 

You will see the lion tribe tearing open the earth with 
hooked claws, and burying themselves in the holes that 
they have made together with the other animals which 
are in subjection to them. 

There shall come forth from the ground creatures clad 
in darkness who shall attack the human race with tre- 
mendous onslaughts, and it shall have the blood poisoned 
by their fierce bites even while it is devoured by 

There shall also hurtle through the air a tribe of 
dreadful winged creatures who shall attack both men and 
beasts and feed upon them with loud cries, They shall 
fill their bellies full of crimson blood. (/ 63 [15] r.) 

Oxen shall by their horns protect the fire from death : 
The lantern. (/ 64 [16] p.) 



How many shall there be who after they are dead will 
lie rotting in their own houses, filling all the air around 
with their foul stench. (/ 67 [19] r.) 


The time of Herod shall return ; for the innocent 
children shall be torn away from their nurses and shall 

die of great wounds at the hands of cruel men. 

(8. JE, jlf. & 9 v.) 

The oxen will become in great part the cause of the 
destruction of cities and so likewise will horses and 
buffaloes : They draw the guns. (B. M* 263, Ar. 42 *,) 



Many children shall be torn with pitiless beatings out 
of the very arms of their mothers and flung upon the 
ground and then maimed. (C. A. 145 r. a.) 


The trees and shrubs of the vast forests shall be 
changed to ashes. 


That shall be revered and honoured and its precepts 
shall be listened to with reverence and love, which was 
at first despised and mangled and tortured with many 
different blows". 



Within walnuts and other trees and plants there shall 
be found very great treasures which lie hidden there. 

(C. A. 370 r. a.) 

The forests will bring forth young who will become 
the cause of their death. The handle of the hatchet. 

(7 64 [16]*), 


Those which have done best will be most beaten, and 
their children will be carried off and stripped or de- 
spoiled, and their bones broken and crushed. 

(7 65 [17] *) 


Fathers and mothers shall be seen to bestow much 
more attention upon their step-children than upon their 
own children. (B. M. 263, Ar. 212 .) 


Innumerable lives will be extinguished, and innumer- 
able vacant spaces created upon the earth. 

(S. K. M. u. 34. r.) 


There are many who hold the faith of the Son and 
only build temples in the name of the Mother. 

(C. A, 145 r. *) 


(Cr,,f>v\ Crwtfa) (Star of Btt&Mfm) (Wood Anemone] 

(Ltafy'Rrdncitfd fy 

Face /. 274 



The greatest honours and ceremonies shall be paid to 
men without their knowledge. (C. A. 145 *. *.) 

Men shall speak with men who shall not hear them ; 
their eyes shall be open and they shall not see; they 
will speak to them and there shall be no reply; they 
will ask pardon from one who has ears and does not 
hear; they will offer light to one who is blind, and to 
the deaf they will appeal with loud clamour. 1 


In all the parts of Europe there shall be lamentations 
by great nations for the death of one man. 2 

(C. A. 370 r. a,) 


Many shall leave their own dwellings and shall carry 
with them all their goods and go to dwell in other lands. 


How many will there be who will mourn for their 
dead ancestors, carrying lights for them ! 


Invisible money will cause many who spend it to 
triumph. (C. J. 370 * a.) 

* MS. 'ftran tome a [chi] I orbo [. . .] lordi con gran [. . ,]ore.* 

* ' Who died in the East ' follows in MS. but it crossed out 



Those who are dead will after a thousand years be 
those who will make provision for many of the living* 

(/ 66 [18] *,) 


Many shall there be who in order to practise their 
calling shall put on the richest vestments, and these shall 
seem to be made after the manner of aprons. 


The unhappy women of their own accord shall go to 
reveal to men all their wantonness and their shameful 
and most secret acts. 


There will' be many who will abandon work and 
labour and poverty of life and possessions, and will go 
to dwell among riches and in splendid buildings, pre- 
tending that this is a means of becoming acceptable 
to God. 


A countless multitude wui sell publicly and without 
hindrance things of the very greatest value without 
licence from the Lord of these things, which were never 
theirs nor in their power ; and human justice will take 
no account of this. 



The simple folk will carry a great number of lights 
to light up the journeys of all those who have wholly 
lost the power of sight ! O human folly ! O madness 
of mankind! These two phrases stand for the com- 
mencement of the matter. (C. A. 370 ?. a.) 


Alas ! whom do I see ? The Saviour crucified again. 


I see Christ again sold and crucified and His saints 
suffering martyrdom. (/ 66 [18] v.) 


Then almost all the tabernacles where dwells the 
Corpus Domini will be plainly visible walking about of 
themselves on the different roads of the world* 

(7 65 [17],.) 


Some shall go about in white vestments with arrogant 
gestures threatening others with metal a$d fire, which 
yet have never done them any harm. 

(. M.263>4r. 212 &) 

And many have made a trade in deceits and feigned 
miracles, cozening the foolish herd, and if ho one 
showed himself cognisant of their deceits they would 
impose them upon all. (F 5 *.) 


Frati Santi spells Pharisees. (Tr. Tav. 63 a.) 

That shall be drowned which supplies the light for 
divine service : The bees which make the wax for 
the candles. (B. M. 263, Ar. 42 .} 


There shall be heard mournful cries, and loud shrieks, 
hoarse, angry voices of those who are tortured and 
despoiled and at kst left naked and motionless ; and 
this shall be by reason of the motive power which turns 
the whole. 


Flying creatures will support men with their 


Over a great part of the country men shall be seen 
walking about on the skins of large animals. 


The movement of the dead shall cause many who 
are living to flee away with grief and lamentation 
and cries. 


To such a pitch of ingratitude shall men come that 
that which shall give them lodging without any price 
shall be loaded with blows, in such a way that great parts 
of the inside of it shall be detached from their place and 
shall be turned over and over within it. 



There shall be seen huge bodies devoid of life, carrying 
great numbers of men with fierce speed to the destruc- 
tion of their lives. (C. A. 370 r. a) 


The trees of the vast forests of Taurus and of Sinai, of 
the Apennines and of Adas l shall be seen speeding by 
means of the air from East to West, and from North to 
South, and transporting by means of the air a great 
quantity of men. O, how many vows ! How many 
deaths ! What partings 'twixt friends and rektives shall 
there be ! How many who shall never more behold 
their own lands or their native country, and shall die un- 
sepulchred and their bones be scattered in divers parts 
of the world. (C. A. 370 v. a.) 

Feathers shall raise men even as they do birds towards 
heaven : That is by letters written with their quills. 

(/6 4 [i6]g 

Many times the thing that is severed becomes the cause 
of great union : That is the comb made up of split* canes 
which unites the threads in the silk. (/ 65 [17] r.) 

And those who feed the air will turn night into 
day : Tallow. (/ 66 [i 8] r.) 


Men will come to such a state of misery that they will 
be grateful that others should profit by their sufferings, 
or by the loss of their true riches, that is health. 

i MS.'talas.* 



There shall come forth from beneath the ground that 
which by its terrific report shall stun all who are near it 
and cause men to drop dead at its breath, and it shall 
devastate cities and castles. (C. A. 129 v. *.) 


Men shall throw away out of their houses those 
victuals which were meant for the sustenance of their 
lives. (A M. 263, Ar. 212 b.) 

Many there will be who will wax great in destruc- 
tion : The ball of snow rolling over the snow. 

There will be a great host, who, forgetful of their exist- 
ence and their name, will lie as dead upon the spoils of 
other dead : Sleeping upon the feathers of birds. 

Oh! how many great buildings will be ruined by 
reason of fire : By the fire of the guns. 

(A M. 263, AT. 42 b.) 


The earth will be seen turned upside down and facing 
the opposite hemispheres, and laying bare the holes 
where lurk the fiercest animals. 


At the last the earth will become red after being 
exposed to fire for many days, and the stones will 
become changed to ashes. 



Bodies without souls shall by their sayings supply 
precepts which shall help us to die well. 


There shall be seen shapes and figures of men and 
animals which shall pursue these men and animals where- 
soever they flee ; and the movements of the one shall be 
as those of the other, but it shall seem a thing to wonder 
at because of the different dimensions which they assume. 

(C. . 


There shall appear huge figures in human shape, and 
the nearer to you they approach the more will their 
immense size diminish. (K 50 [i] ?.) 


Many times one man shall be seen to change into 
three and all shall proceed together, and often the one 
that is most real abandons him. 


The high walls of mighty cities shall be seen inverted 
in their trenches. 



There shall come forth from beneath the ground that 
which by its terrific report shall stun all who are near it 
and cause men to drop dead at its breath, and it shall 
devastate cities and castles. (C. A. 129 v. a.) 


Men shall throw away out of their houses those 
victuals which were meant for the sustenance of their 
lives. (A M. 263, Ar. 212 3.) 

Many there will be who will wax great in destruc- 
tion : The ball of snow rolling over the snow. 

There will be a great host, who, forgetful of their exist- 
ence and their name, will lie as dead upon the spoils of 
other dead : Sleeping upon the feathers of birds. 

Oh! how many great buildings will be ruined by 
reason of fire : By the fire of the guns. 

(A M. 263, Ar. 42 *.) 


The earth will be seen turned upside down and facing 
the opposite hemispheres, and laying bare the holes 
where lurk the fiercest animals. 


At the last the earth will become red after being 
exposed to fire for many days, and the stones will 
become changed to ashes. 



Bodies without souls shall by their sayings supply 
precepts which shall help us to die well. 


There shall be seen shapes and figures of men and 
animals which shall pursue these men and animals where- 
soever they flee ; and the movements of the one shall be 
as those of the other, but it shall seem a thing to wonder 
at because of the different dimensions which they assume* 

(C. J. 370 r. *.) 


There shall appear huge figures in human shape, and 
the nearer to you they approach the more will their 
immense size diminish. (X 50 [i] *.) 


Many times one man shall be seen to change into 
three and all shall proceed together, and often the one 
that is most real abandons him. 


The high walls of mighty cities shall be seen inverted 
in their trenches. 



All the elements shall be seen confounded together, 
surging in huge rolling mass, now towards the centre of 
the earth, now towards the sky ; at one time coursing in 
fury from the southern regions towards the icy North, 
at another time from the East to the West, and so again 
from this hemisphere to the other. 


It shall even come to pass that it will be impossible to 
tell the difference between colours, for all will become 
black in hue. 


That which of itself is gentle and void of all offence 
will become terrible and ferocious by reason of evil 
companionship, and will take the lives of many people 
with the utmost cruelty ; and it would sky many more 
if it were not that these are protected by "bodies which 
are themselves without life, which have come forth out 
of pits, that is by cuirasses of iron. 


From small beginnings shall arise that which shall 
rapidly become great ; and it shall have respect for no 


created thing, but its power shall be such as to enable 
it to transform almost everything from its natural 
condition. (C. A. 370 r. <*.) 


Men from the most remote countries shall speak one 
to another and shall reply. 


Men shall speak with and touch and embrace each 
other while standing each in different hemispheres, and 
shall understand each other's language. 

(C. A. 370 r. a.) 

The works of men's hands will become the cause of 
their death : Swords and spears. (764 [16] *.) 


Many things which have previously been destroyed by 
fire will deprive many men of their liberty. 



You shall see plants continuing without leaves and 
rivers standing still in their courses. 

The water of the sea shall rise above the high summits 
of the mountains towards the sky, and it shall fall down 
again on to the dwellings of men : That is as clouds. 


Men shall cast away thtir own food : That is in 
sowing. (I6s[is]t>.) 

The generation of men shall come to such a pass as 
not to understand one another's speech: That is a 
German with a Turk. 

Men shall come forth out of the graves changed to 
winged creatures, and they shall attack other men, taking 
away their food even from their hands and tables: 
The flies. 

Many there will be who will flay their own mother 
and fold back her skin : The tillers of the ground. 

(76 4 [i6]r.) 

Many creatures of the earth and of the water will 
mount up among the stars : The Planets. 

You shajl see the dead carrying the living in divers 
parts of the world : The chariots and ships. 

From many the food shall be taken away out of their 
mouths : From ovens. 

And those who have their mouths filled by the 
hands of others shall have the food taken away out of 
their mouths : The oven. (/ 66 [18] r.) 

Snow in summer shall be gathered on the high moun- 
tain peaks and carried to warm places, and there be let 
to fall down when festivals are held in the piazza in the 

time of summer. (Sul Polo degli Vccelli, 14 [i 3] r.) 


The east shall be seen to rush into the west and the 

south to the north, whirling themselves round about 
the universe with great noise and trembling : The 
wind from the east. which rushes into the west 


The rays of the sun will kindle fire on the earth 
whereby shall be set alight that which is beneath the 
sky, and reflected by whatever withstands their course 
they will turn downwards : The concave mirror kindles 
the fire with which the oven is heated, and this has a 
foundation that stands beneath its roof. 

A great part of the sea will fly towards the sky, 
and for a long time it will not return : That is in 

There remains the motion which separates the mover 
from the thing moved. 

The dead shall come forth from under the earth, and 
by their fierce movements shall drive out of the world 
innumerable human creatures : The iron which comes 
from under the earth is dead, and it makes the weapons 
wherewith so many men have been slain. 

The greatest mountains even though they are remote 
from the sea borders will drive the sea from its place : 
That is by the rivers which carry down the soil they 
have taken from the mountains and deposit it upon 
the seashores; and where the earth comes the sea 

The water fallen from the clouds, which continue to 
move along the bases of the mountains, will stay for a 
long time without making any movement, and this will 
take place in many and divers regions : Snow which 
falls in flakes, which is water. 

The great rocks of the mountains will dart forth fire, 


such that they will burn up the timber of many vast 
forests and many beasts both wild and tame : The flint 
of the tinder-box, which makes a fire that consumes all 
the loads of faggots of which the forests are cleared, 
and with this the flesh of beasts is cooked. 

(B. M. 263, Ar. 42 6.) 


He who shall be most necessary to whoever has need 
of him will be unknown, and if known will be held of 
less account. (C. A. 37 v. <r.) 

All those things which in the winter are concealed and 
hidden beneath the snow will be left bare and exposed 
in summer : Said of a lie which cannot remain hidden. 

(I 39 *>) 


The malevolent and- terrifying thing shall of itself 
strike such terror into men that almost like madmen 
while thinking to escape from it they will rush in swift 
course upon its boundless forces. (C* A. 37 v. **) 

Happy will be those who give ear to the words of the 
dead : The reading of good books and the observing 
of their precepts. (/ 64 1 16] r.) 

Men will pursue the thing they most fear : That is 
they will be miserable lest they should fall into misery. 

Things severed shall be united and shall acquire of 
themselves such virtue that they shall restore to men 


their lost memory : That is, the papyrus sheets which 
are formed out of severed strips and preserve the 
memory of the thoughts and deeds of men* 


The more you converse with skins covered over with 
sentiments, the more you will acquire wisdom. 


There shall come forth loud noises out of the tombs 

of those who have died by an evil and violent death. 

(/6 S [i 7 ]rO 


Many there shall be who with the utmost zeal and 
solicitude will pursue furiously that which has always filled 
them with awe, not knowing its evil nature. 


You will see that those who are considered to be of 
most experience and judgment, in proportion as they 
come to have less need of things, seek and hoard them 
with more eagerness. (C. A. 370 % a.) 


That shall come forth from hollow caves which shall 
cause aH the nations of the world to toil and sweat with 
great agitation, anxiety and labour, in order to gain its 

(C. jt. 37 9. c.) 



There shall come forth out of dark and gloomy caves 
that which shall cause the whole human race to undergo 
great afflictions, perils, and death* To many of those 
who follow it, after much tribulation it will yield delight ; 
but whosoever pays it no homage will die in want and 
misery. It shall bring to pass an endless number of 
crimes; it shall .prompt and incite wretched men to 
assassinate, to steal, and to enslave; it shall hold its 
own followers in suspicion ; it shall deprive free cities of 
their rank ; it shall take away life itself from many ; it 
shall make men torment each other with many kinds of 
subterfuge, deceits and treacheries* 

O vile monster ! How much better were it for men 
that them shouldst go back to hell ! For this the vast 
forests shall be stripped of their trees ; for this an infinite 

number of creatures shall lose their lives. 

(C. A, 370 r. *.) 


And whereas at first young maidens could not be 
protected from the lust and violence of men, either by 
the watchfulness of parents or by the strength of walls, 
there will come a time when it will be necessary for the 
fathers and relatives of these maidens to pay a great 
price to whoever is willing to marry them, even although 
they may be rich and noble and exceedingly beautiful. 
Herein it seems certain that nature desires to exterminate 
the human race, as a thing useless to the world and the 
destroyer of all created things* 



Creatures shall be seen upon the earth who will always 
be fighting one with another with very great losses and 
frequent deaths on dither side. These shall set no bounds 
to their malice ; by their fierce limbs a great number of 
the trees in the immense forests of the world shall be 
laid level with the ground ; and when they have crammed 
themselves with food it shall gratify their desire to deal 
out death, affliction, labours, terrors, and banishment to 
every living thing* And by reason of their boundless 
pride they shall wish to rise towards heaven, but the 
excessive weight of their limbs shall hold them down. 
There shall be nothing remaining on the earth or under 
the earth or in the waters that shall not be pursued and 
molested or destroyed, and that which is in one country 
taken away to another ; and their own bodies shall be 
made the tomb and the means of transit of all the living 
bodies which they have slain. O Earth ! what delays thee 
to open and hurl them headlong into the deep fissures of 
thy huge abysses and caverns, and no longer to display 
in the sight of heaven so savage and ruthless a monster ? 

(C. A. 370 v. a.}